This image shows a composite image of the nucleus of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (the point of light at the centre), recorded on Feb. 26, 2004, at 6:15 UT with the SUSI-2 camera on the 3.5-m New Technology Telescope. It is based on fifteen series of exposures seen in three different wavebands and since the images were aligned on the comet, the images of stars in the field are trailed. The fact that the image of the comet's 'dirty snowball' nucleus is almost star-like indicates that it is surrounded by a very small amount of gas or dust. The distance to the comet from the Earth was approx. 600 million km (373 million miles).
The European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft launched on March 2, 2004 on a 10-year journey to intercept and study the comet.
Image Credit: European Southern Observatory
Credit: European Southern Observatory