NASA Reveals Incredible Images of Massive Comet that Flew Past Earth

What a beautiful view.

NASA has recently revealed the closest view ever of the so-called Christmas Comet, aka 46P/Wirtanen, which recently zipped past Earth ad a distance of 7.4 million miles.

NASA followed the object across the sky and captured some of the most amazing images of the cosmic object yet.

Image of Comet 46/Wirtanen snapped by the SOFIA Observatory.
Image of Comet 46/Wirtanen snapped by the SOFIA Observatory.

Some of the most amazing images were captured by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope which revealed some of the most amazing close-up images of the brightest comet of 2018.

The cosmic rock was photographed from various angles as it streaked across the sky 12 million kilometers from Earth.

The close fly-by of 46P/Wirtanen allowed scientist to study and test out the combining observational capabilities of the Hubble Space Telescope and NASA’s X-Ray Observatory.

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This stunning view of Comet 46/Wirtanen was snapped by the Hubble Space Telescope.
This stunning view of Comet 46/Wirtanen was snapped by the Hubble Space Telescope.

By using the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) onboard Hubble, scientists managed to find out what the comet is made of, and how the gasses inside it are changed when exposed to stronger sunlight and radiation.

In addition to Hubble, NASA’s SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) observed the comet and photographed it at a distance of 40,000 feet.

Astrophotographer Chris Schur captured this 60-minute exposure of the incoming Comet 46P/Wirtanen on Dec. 3, 2018. Image Credit: Chris Schur.
Astrophotographer Chris Schur captured this 60-minute exposure of the incoming Comet 46P/Wirtanen on Dec. 3, 2018. Image Credit: Chris Schur.

SOFIA’s mission was to analyze the water content of the comet as astronomers believe that water n Earth may have originated from comets and asteroids which bombarded our planet through millions of years.

Alan Dyer from Southern Alberta photographed Comet 6P/Wirtanen (lower right) on Dec. 10, 2018. Image Credit: Alan Dyer

Scientists argue that studying comets and asteroids will help them learn more about the origin of the history of water in the solar system, as well as the origin of Earth’s oceans.

The bright-green Comet 46P/Wirtanen is visible to the naked eye. Image Credit: Astrohotographer Gerald Rhemann.
The bright-green Comet 46P/Wirtanen is visible to the naked eye. Image Credit: Astrohotographer Gerald Rhemann.

In Addition to SOFIA and Hubble, NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, as well as the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory will allow experts to better understand how gases are released from the comet’s nucleus.

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