Comet ISON approaches the Sun as seen by STEREO Ahead

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Dec 2, 2013
Credit: NASA / STEREO / Emily Lakdawalla
This animation is composed of 321 images captured between November 22 and 29 as comet ISON approached the Sun. Also visible is the smaller comet 2P/Encke. As ISON draws near the Sun, it suddenly brightens so much that it saturates the detector, blooming into a long vertical line. That vertical line represents charge spilling over from the pixels containing ISON’s head into the rest of the pixels on the same row in the camera’s detector. The same effect is responsible for the vertical lines crossing the visible planets, Mercury and Earth.