What you’re seeing is the surface of comet 67p/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which looks like a spooky mountain range found in the Pacific Northwest. In the short GIF, which you can see in the Tweet below, particles of cosmic dust float around the comet as it hurdles through space. It’s like discovering a new, creepy world.
According to ESA senior advisor Mark McCaughrean, there’s a lot going on in the images. The stars in the background are from constellation Canis Major; some of the other stuff is simply dust from the comet. McCaughrean also notes some of the streak may be from high-energy particles striking the camera.
— landru79 (@landru79) April 23, 2018
The imagery is mesmerizing and a little unsettling, like something ripped straight out of a science fiction movie. As Gizmodo notes, the raw data was captured by the European Space Agency’s Rosetta probe in June 2016, and is only now being released.
The reason it’s taken this long to release the raw data is that the probe crashed into the comet’s surface in 2016. It’s an incredible sight to behold.