Comet Lovejoy Accidentally Caught by World's Most Powerful Digital Camera
Researchers for the Dark Energy Survey were pleasantly surprised when Comet Lovejoy happened to pass through the field of vision of the 570-megapixel Dark Energy Camera, the world's most powerful digital camera.
[Credit: Dark Energy Survey]
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The above picture was taken on December 27, 2014, while the comet was 51 million miles from Earth. This may sound impossibly far for such a clear image, but the camera is actually sensitive to light up to 8 billion miles away. Each of the rectangles represents one of the 62 fields of the extremely potent camera, which is currently being used in the effort to discover the nature of dark energy by observing the expansion of the universe.
On their blog, the researchers cited their accidental glimpse of Comet Lovejoy as their favorite memory from their research: "It reminds us that before we can look out beyond our Galaxy to the far reaches of the Universe, we need to watch out for celestial objects that are much closer to home!"
Comet Lovejoy is one of five comets discovered by amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy. Its center consists of a solid ball of ice 3 miles across, and its head is a cloud of gas of dust that is 400,000 miles in diameter.