Comet ISON Blazes with Distant Galaxies in Stunning Hubble Photo

A spectacular new photo gives a deep-space view of Comet ISON, which could put on a dazzling show when it zooms through the inner solar system in late November.

The image — which researchers stitched together from five photos of ISON taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope on April 30 — shows the icy wanderer blazing against a backdrop of galaxies and bright stars.

"The result is part science, part art," Josh Sokol of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md., which operates Hubble, wrote in a blog post last week. "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." [Photos of Comet ISON: A Potentially Great Comet]

All five images were captured by Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 UVIS instrument, researchers said. Three exposures were made with a filter that transmits yellow and green light (represented as blue in the image), while two used a filter that lets in red and some near-infrared light.

"In general, redder things are older, more evolved, than blue things — this is true both for the crosshair-spiked stars and the smudges of distant galaxies," Sokol wrote.

Comet ISON is cruising toward a close encounter with the sun on Nov. 28, when it will skim just 724,000 miles (1.16 million kilometers) above the solar surface. The comet could get incredibly luminous around this time, perhaps shining as brightly as the full moon, researchers say.

ISON has thus attracted a fair bit of "comet of the century" hype, with skywatchers and scientists around the world eagerly tracking its long trek toward the sun. Indeed, Hubble is just one of many instruments that researchers around the world are training on the comet as part of a coordinated observation campaign.

Comets are primordial bodies made from the same fundamental building blocks that coalesced to form the planets 4.5 billion years ago. So scientists hope that close study of the material that boils off ISON as it nears the sun will reveal insights about the solar system's early days.

While hopes for a great sky show are high, there is no guarantee that ISON will live up to the hype. Comets are notoriously unpredictable, and ISON's behavior could be particularly tricky to forecast. The comet, which was discovered in September 2012, is thought to be making its first-ever foray into the inner solar system from the distant and frigid Oort Cloud.

Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Originally published on SPACE.com.

Copyright 2013 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • At 72, Brazilian stars celebrate half-century of friendship
    At 72, Brazilian stars celebrate half-century of friendship

    RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A university student by the name of Caetano Veloso struck up a conversation one day with a fellow student, a budding musician with a local TV gig. It was a chance encounter that helped change the face of Brazilian music and launched a friendship that has continued for more than half a century. …

  • Hungary Cannes sensation may help country face dark past
    Hungary Cannes sensation may help country face dark past

    By Marton Dunai BUDAPEST (Reuters) - The makers of the award-winning Hungarian film "Son of Saul" said on Thursday they want as many Hungarians as possible to see it in a country that has been plagued by anti-Semitism and xenophobia. The film -- the tale of a Jewish "Sonderkommando" death camp worker who finds a corpse he believes is his son's and sets his mind to burying him amid the horrors -- won the jury's Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival this month. Director and screenwriter …

  • J Lo looks forward to Morocco's top music festival

    RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Singer and movie star Jennifer Lopez has expressed excitement about kicking off Morocco's Mawazine music festival on Friday, while insisting she's still just the girl from the Bronx. …

  • Selena & Justin Reunite
    Selena & Justin Reunite

    Are Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber back in the friend zone or the more than friend zone? …

  • 10 Things Only The Rock Can Do
    10 Things Only The Rock Can Do

    If anyone is going to take on the biggest earthquake in recorded history, it has to be Dwayne Johnson – 9.6 ain't got nothing on The Rock! A massive disaster movie about an estranged husband and wife traveling from Los Angeles to San Francisco in order to save their daughter in the midst of an epic catastrophe (one so big there was a cruise ship colliding into a San Francisco skyscraper!) takes some serious suspension of disbelief and some credit to Dwayne for doing things only he can do (and …

  • Actress Lindsay Lohan taken off probation in driving case, prosecutor says
    Actress Lindsay Lohan taken off probation in driving case, prosecutor says

    Actress Lindsay Lohan has completed her community service in a 2012 reckless driving case, a judge found on Thursday, allowing her to leave probation for the first time since 2007, a prosecutor said. The 28-year-old "Mean Girls" star was required to finish more than 100 hours of community service in the case in addition to rehabilitation and therapy. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mark Young found Lohan had completed that obligation and ended her probation, Santa Monica chief deputy …

  • Debut of 'Daily Show With Trevor Noah' set for Sept. 28

    NEW YORK (AP) — Comedy Central says Sept. 28 will be opening night for Trevor Noah as the new host of "The Daily Show." …

  • Judge closes book on last Lindsay Lohan criminal case in LA
    Judge closes book on last Lindsay Lohan criminal case in LA

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — For the first time in nearly eight years, Lindsay Lohan is not on probation. …

  • Beyonce's unretouched L'Oreal photos only latest in her long history of Photoshop controvers …

    Beyonce's unretouched L'Oreal photos only latest in her long history of Photoshop controvers …

    Celebrity News - Fri, Feb 20, 2015 1:47 AM PHT
    Beyonce's unretouched L'Oreal photos only latest in her long history of Photoshop controvers …

    Beyonce’s #Flawless image is embroiled in controversy once again. On Wednesday, a web site called The Beyonce World leaked 224 allegedly raw photos of the musician. The images showed Bey in full makeup for the 2013 L’Oreal ad campaign — but with the kinds of “imperfections” we all have — beauty marks, bumps, creases. In the wake of Cindy Crawford’s unretouched photos, the images have been praised by critics of a beauty industry that sets impossibly high standards, standards that Queen Bey …

  • Taylor Swift reveals ‘Style’ video

    Taylor Swift reveals ‘Style’ video

    omg - Sat, Feb 14, 2015 12:14 AM PHT
    Taylor Swift reveals ‘Style’ video

    The 25-year-old released the video for her third cut from platinum selling album 1989. …

  • My mother-in-law’s personal encounter with the pope

    My mother-in-law’s personal encounter with the pope

    Write Away - Wed, Jan 28, 2015 2:29 PM PHT
    My mother-in-law’s personal encounter with the pope

    For my mother-in-law Mrs. Elsa Yrastorza Yuzon, flying and soaring in the skies is part of her normal routine. But it reached new heights when Pope Francis boarded Shepherd One. …