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Comet C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) as seen by NASA STEREO

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Published on Mar 14, 2013

[EDIT: There's a newer version of this movie here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reizDW...]

This is Comet PanSTARRS as seen by the NASA/STEREO-B satellite, which is on the opposite side of the Sun, looking back at the near-Sun region.
There are a few things to note about this movie. First, there are two planets visible: Mercury on the left; and on the right... Earth! (Earth is easy to see if you're on the other side of the Sun!). The Sun itself is off to the left, outside of the field of view of this camera. The bright vertical lines you see are saturation spikes, caused by objects that are brighter than the telescope detector can handle. I've used a special kind of image processing here that really highlights the features in the tail of the comet, and the solar outflow. Unfortunately it does have the side-effect that objects in motion are half-black and half-white.
Finally... that blast from the Sun right at the end of the movie is a coronal mass ejection (CME). While it appears in this movie as if it's hitting the comet, it actually misses it by some distance in reality (remember, we're viewing a huge region of space here!).

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