The Universe Revealed by Subaru Telescope Ⅰ

The Solar System

The solar system contains many different kinds of celestial objects: the planets and their satellites, asteroids, comets, and small celestial bodies located beyond Neptune. While spacecrafts continue to explore the solar system, the Subaru Telescope also plays an active part in observing all the solar system's objects.


Crumbling Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 Comet

The nucleus of this comet, which approached Earth in 2006, has broken up into tens of smaller cometary nuclei. Subaru Telescope photographed the cometary nucleus, which is called the B nucleus, at a distance 16,500,000 kilometers (about 10,000,000 miles) from Earth. Recently the Subaru Telescope succeeded in taking photographs of the many tiny fragments. Analysis of this photographic evidence indicates that each piece of the former nucleus has become a small comet.



Mid Infrared Observation during the Deep Impact event

Subaru's COMICS (Cooled Mid-Infrared Camera and Spectrograph) captured the moment when a probe from the NASA spacecraft Deep Impact crashed into Comet Tempel 1 in July 2005. Along with observational results from other ground-based telescopes, the various elements that compose the surface and interior of the comet were revealed. These observations brought new information to light about the origins of comets.



Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt

Numerous small celestial objects make up the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt, a collection of bodies that populate a region of space extending out from the orbit of Neptune. Using interval observations, these objects can be seen moving against the background stars (see picture). Subaru Telescope can find these objects effectively by utilizing the wide view of its Prime Focus Camera.



Commentary from Dr. Jun-ichi Watanabe, Associate Professor at NAOJ :

Subaru Telescope continues to discover small celestial objects that have hitherto never been observed in our solar system. Subaru has imaged objects at the far reaches of the solar system, small asteroids that exist between Mars and Jupiter, and documented the breakup of a comet into multiple smaller bodies. Some of these objects could be considered as the fossils of our solar system; remnants of its proto-state. Therefore, ongoing observations of these objects should lead to a deeper understanding of the history of our solar system.





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