Release 184 of 1,073

Comet ISON Brings Holiday Fireworks

Release date: Jul 2, 2013 12:00 PM (EDT)
Comet ISON Brings Holiday Fireworks
Release type: Hubble Heritage

This July 4th, the solar system is showing off some fireworks of its own. Superficially resembling a skyrocket, Comet ISON is hurtling toward the Sun at a whopping 48,000 miles per hour. Unlike a firework, the comet is not combusting, but in fact is pretty cold. Its skyrocket-looking tail is really a streamer of gas and dust bleeding off the icy nucleus. The video shows a sequence of Hubble observations taken over a 43-minute span, compressed into just five seconds. The comet travels 34,000 miles during the exposure sequence.