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Hubble snaps glorious close-up of everyone's favorite comet, Neowise

Hubble shows that Neowise came out bright and beautiful from its close encounter with the sun.

The Hubble view of Neowise is inset into a ground-based view of the comet photographed by Zoltan G. Levay.
NASA, ESA, STScI, Q. Zhang (Caltech) and Z. Levay

Comet Neowise may be out of sight of those of us on Earth, but it didn't escape the far-seeing eyes of the Hubble Space Telescope. NASA and ESA's telescope snapped a lovely portrait of the comet on Aug. 8. 

"This is the first time Hubble has photographed a comet of this brightness at such resolution after this close of a pass by the sun," said NASA in a release on Friday.

Neowise cozied up to the sun in early July. Hubble's observations acted as a sort of health check. "Other comets often break apart due to thermal and gravitational stresses at such close encounters, but Hubble's view shows that apparently Neowise's solid nucleus stayed intact," said NASA.

Neowise's official name is comet C/2020 F3. The Hubble Space Telescope captured this view on Aug. 8.

NASA, ESA, A. Pagan (STScI), and Q. Zhang (Caltech)

Hubble's view highlights the gas and dust around the center of Neowise that formed into twin jets. The color of the dust can give scientists clues to the comet's interactions with solar heat. 

"The ultimate goal here would be to learn the original properties of the dust to learn more about the conditions of the early solar system in which it formed," said NASA.

Neowise made quite a splash for the days it was visible from Earth. It starred in some epic images and drew people outside to skywatch in hopes of catching a glimpse of the visitor. 

It truly was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Neowise won't be back for another 7,000 years. At least we'll have a stunning photo album to remember it by.

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