July 27, 2013
Comet ISON Photo Shows Icy Wanderer Among Distant Galaxies

A newly released photo of Comet ISON shows the icy wanderer traveling along a background of distant galaxies. The photo was put together using five images taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

As a result, Josh Sokol of the Space Telescope Science Institute (which operates Hubble), commented that the photo is "part science, part art." He explained:

"It's a simulation of what our eyes, with their ability to dynamically adjust to brighter and fainter objects, would see if we could look up at the heavens with the resolution of Hubble."

And the photo shows that Comet ISON could very well be the so-called Comet of the Century. The massive space object is traveling toward the sun and will skim by at just 724,000 miles away on November 28, reports Space.com.

Scientists aren't sure yet if the comet will withstand the sun's intensity, or if it will break up as it makes its close approach. But if Comet ISON withstands the pressure, it could become as bright as the moon during the day.

Hubble, with its photos of the giant comet, is one of many instruments around the world with its scope trained on the comet as it comes ever closer. NBC News adds that the telescope is part of the coordinated observation campaign, which could help scientists better understand how the solar system formed.

Comets are made up of the same building blocks that created our solar system and its planets about 4.5 billion years ago. Having one pass so close to Earth is a treat, one that scientists hope to take full advantage of. But the comet is still a long ways off, and there are a few months left before the comet is expected to be at its peak.

Researchers already know some about Comet ISON, and it is likely the latest photos taken by Hubble will help even more. The comet is about three miles wide and is still about 300 million miles away from the sun. But the comet will be much closer in just four months.

What do you think of the latest photo of Comet ISON? Do you think it will live up to its hype?

[Image via NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team {STScl/AURA)]