Dark Energy Camera catches breathtaking glimpse of comet Lovejoy

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On December 27, 2014, while scanning the southern sky as part of the Dark Energy Survey, researchers snapped the above shot of comet Lovejoy. The image above was captured using the 570-megapixel Dark Energy Camera, the world’s most powerful digital camera. Each of the rectangular shapes above represents one of the 62 individual fields of the camera.

At the time this image was taken, the comet was passing about 51 million miles from Earth – a short distance for the Dark Energy Camera, which is sensitive to light up to 8 billion light years away. The comet’s center is a ball of ice roughly three miles across, and the visible head of the comet is a cloud of gas and dust about 400,000 miles in diameter.

Image credit: Fermilab’s Marty Murphy, Nikolay Kuropatkin, Huan Lin and Brian Yanny

For more stunning images, visit the DES photo blog, Dark Energy Detectives.