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Rotating 3D Map of Comet Lemmon Releasing HCN Molecules

7 August, 2014 / Read time: 1 minute

This rotating 3D ALMA map shows how HCN molecules are released from the nucleus of comet Lemmon and then spread evenly throughout the atmosphere, or coma.

Similar maps revealed that HCN and formaldehyde are produced in the coma, rather than originating from the comet's nucleus.

These new observations provided valuable information on how and when comets forge new chemicals, including some interesting organic compounds.

Credit: Brian Kent (NRAO/AUI/NSF). Music: Mark Mercury.