Schwassmann-Wachmann 1

Schwassmann-Wachmann 1

(shvahss -mahn vahk -mahn) A comet that moves in a near-circular orbit between the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn and suffers from random outbursts: increases in brightness by up to seven magnitudes that last for a few weeks. A considerable number of comets suffer outbursts and many theories have been put forward to explain them. These include pressure release from gas pockets of methane and carbon dioxide, explosive chemical reactions involving free radicals (CH, OH, and NH), temperature-induced phase changes in amorphous ice, impact cratering by interplanetary boulders, and spin- and age-induced nuclear break-up. Impact and break-up are the most likely causes.
References in periodicals archive ?
Other comets have also exhibited outbursts (such as Schwassmann-Wachmann 1, which produces several outbursts per year), but not at the extreme level shown by Holmes.
Senay and David Jewitt of the University of Hawaii in Honolulu used two short-wavelength radio telescopes to detect gas emissions from Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 1, which never ventures nearer to the sun than Jupiter.
Such nuclear outbursts were also observed in Periodic Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 1. According to Sekanina, Hale-Bopp may grow fainter in the coming months as its dust and gases slowly disperse in space.
1" is the giant Pacific Periodic Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 1 in a nearly circular orbit beyond Jupiter.