Seven individual fragments of Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann are
visible here, in a set of exposures taken to record H & N.
Five of the seven have (as of 21 May 2006) been officially
designated letters, with 73P-BO, BP and BQ being announced on 06 May
2006 in MPEC
2006-J31. As can be seen from the next image (2 days later)
the magnitudes and appearance of the components are changing rapidly and
the two undesignated fragments may not have lasted long enough to be observed again.
Fragments near N 28 Apr 2006
Here seven fragments are again visible, but the field of view is aligned
slightly to the west of the image above. The very diffuse fragment 73P-M
the east (above) is now out of view but the bright component 73P-BP not recorded
on 28 Apr 2006 is now in view on the west side. One fragment recorded
well on Apr 28 is now only just hinted at with a magnitude of +21.5
(between 73P-BQ and BP).
Fragments near N 30 Apr 2006
Fragments near H & N seen in the two
images above can be made out in a small region of the image of 73P
taken with the Spitzer Space Telescope.
Note that the Spitzer image was taken about 1 week later than the images
above and from a point some distance from Earth (see here)
so the perspective is slightly different.
Fragments 73P-AP and 73P-BC
The main image of 73P-AP and 73P-BC has been processed to bring out the
coma and very faint tail of 73P-AP but at the expense of losing detail
in the bright coma of 73P-BC. The inset shows 73P-BC adjusted to reveal
several condensations within the coma.