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The Latest Hubble Image of Comet ISON

18 Nov 2013, 15:00 UTC
The Latest Hubble Image of Comet ISON
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As of mid-November, ISON is officially upon us. Using Hubble, we've taken our closest look yet at the innermost region of the comet, where jets of sublimating ice are fueling a spectacular tail.

Visit Hubble Heritage for high-resolution images. Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Made from observations on November 2nd, the image combines pictures of ISON taken through blue and red filters. As Hubble follows the close, fast-moving comet, background stars are streaked in the direction of ISON's motion. The combined effect, which has been removed from the final image, can be seen here:

A stacked color composite of the November 2nd observations. Since

Hubble tracked the comet, each red and blue image of ISON itself adds up

in the same place, producing a clear, colorful image of the comet. The

smeared-out background stars don't fare so well. Also visible are cosmic

rays, which can be seen as small streaks angled in random directions, and

the chip gap: a horizonal dead zone in the middle of the image.

Credit: Hubble Heritage Team

As we expect, the spherical coma around ISON's nucleus is blue ...

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