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Comet Lovejoy
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Comet Lovejoy

January 22, 2012
Comet Lovejoy as seen by the Solar Optical Telescope (SOT) on Hinode as it approached the sun early on 16 December 2011. Hinode purposely adjusted its instruments during this time period to observer the side of the sun and track the comet. Scientists were rewarded with two images, taken 30 seconds apart before Comet Lovejoy vanished into the glare of scattered light from the sun. Using these images, scientists believe the coma -- the visible cloud of ice and dust surrounding the comet -- is about 450 miles across. Since the comet is so much fainter than the sun, the SOT's original image showed a saturated, over bright sun next to the comet; this image has been processed with a replacement, less bright image of the sun that was captured simultaneously. Credit: JAXA/Hinode/LMSAL


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