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  • This Hubble Space Telescope image shows a fuzzy cloud of dust,  
called a coma, surrounding the comet C/2017 K2 PANSTARRS (K2),  
the farthest active comet ever observed entering the solar system.

Hubble snapped images of K2 when the frozen visitor was 1.5 billion  
miles from the Sun, just beyond Saturn's orbit. Even at that remote  
distance, sunlight is warming the frigid comet, producing an  
80,000-mile-wide coma that envelops a tiny, solid nucleus.

K2 has been traveling for millions of years from its home in the  
Oort Cloud, a spherical region at the edge of our solar system.  
This frigid area contains hundreds of billions of comets, the icy  
leftovers from the formation of the solar system 4.6 billion years  
ago.
    NASA, ESA, and D. Jewitt (UCLA)
    This Hubble Space Telescope image shows a fuzzy cloud of dust, called a coma, surrounding the comet C/2017 K2 PANSTARRS (K2), the farthest active comet ever observed entering the solar system. Hubble snapped images of K2 when the frozen visitor was 1.5 billion miles from the Sun, just beyond Saturn's orbit. Even at that remote distance, sunlight is warming the frigid comet, producing an 80,000-mile-wide coma that envelops a tiny, solid nucleus. K2 has been traveling for millions of years from its home in the Oort Cloud, a spherical region at the edge of our solar system. This frigid area contains hundreds of billions of comets, the icy leftovers from the formation of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago.
  • This illustration shows the orbit of comet C/2017 K2 PANSTARRS (K2)  
on its maiden voyage into the solar system. The Hubble Space  
Telescope observed K2 when it was 1.5 billion miles from the Sun,  
halfway between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus. The observations  
revealed a fuzzy cloud of dust, called a coma, surrounding the icy  
visitor, evidence that the frozen comet is being warmed by the Sun  
and releasing material. K2 is the farthest active inbound comet  
ever observed.

K2 has been traveling toward the Sun for millions of years from its  
home in the Oort Cloud, a spherical region at the edge of our solar  
system. The graphic shows the comet in its inbound journey, high  
above the plane of the major planets' orbits. The orbits of the  
giant planets, from Jupiter to Neptune, are also shown in the  
diagram. The farthest object from the Sun depicted here is the  
dwarf planet Pluto, which resides in the Kuiper Belt, a vast rim  
of primordial debris encircling our solar system.
    NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI)
    This illustration shows the orbit of comet C/2017 K2 PANSTARRS (K2) on its maiden voyage into the solar system. The Hubble Space Telescope observed K2 when it was 1.5 billion miles from the Sun, halfway between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus. The observations revealed a fuzzy cloud of dust, called a coma, surrounding the icy visitor, evidence that the frozen comet is being warmed by the Sun and releasing material. K2 is the farthest active inbound comet ever observed. K2 has been traveling toward the Sun for millions of years from its home in the Oort Cloud, a spherical region at the edge of our solar system. The graphic shows the comet in its inbound journey, high above the plane of the major planets' orbits. The orbits of the giant planets, from Jupiter to Neptune, are also shown in the diagram. The farthest object from the Sun depicted here is the dwarf planet Pluto, which resides in the Kuiper Belt, a vast rim of primordial debris encircling our solar system.




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