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comet ISON swims amonst a scattering of stars and galaxies
NASA’s Hubble: Galaxies, Comets, and Stars! Oh My!

Approaching the sun, Comet ISON floats against a seemingly infinite backdrop of numerous galaxies and a handful of foreground stars. The icy visitor, with its long gossamer tail, appears to be swimming like a tadpole through a deep pond of celestial wonders.
 
In reality, the comet is much, much closer. The nearest star to the sun is over 60,000 times farther away, and the nearest large galaxy to the Milky Way is over thirty billion times more distant. These vast dimensions are lost in this deep space Hubble exposure that visually combines our view of the universe from the very nearby to the extraordinarily far away.
 
In this composite image, background stars and galaxies were separately photographed in red and yellow-green light. Because the comet moved between exposures relative to the background objects, its appearance was blurred. The blurred comet photo was replaced with a single, black-and-white exposure. The images were taken with the Wide Field Camera 3 on April 30, 2013.
 
The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute
(STScI) in Baltimore, Md., conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated by  the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy Inc., in Washington, D.C.
 
For image files and more information about Comet ISON, visit:
http://hubblesite.org/news/2013/31
http://heritage.stsci.edu/2013/31

For more information about the Hubble Space Telescope, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/hubble
 

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Text Credit: Ray Villard, Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.

 

Page Last Updated: July 28th, 2013
Page Editor: Karl Hille