Fact check: Viral photo of star is an illustration and wasn't taken by the Hubble telescope

The claim: Image shows 'Christmas star' captured by Hubble telescope

Jupiter and Saturn have aligned in the night sky this week, with the two planets appearing closer together than they have since the Middle Ages, and many dubbed it the "Christmas star."

Social media users shared photos online of the phenomenon, and one viral image shared widely on Facebook purports to show the Christmas star captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.

"Star of Bethlehem taken by Hubble - WOW!!" one user wrote in a post that has over 4,000 shares.

"The other night taken from the Hubble Telescope," another user wrote, accompanied with the purported photo of a large bright star surrounded by smaller stars.

One user shared the same image writing, "Hubble telescope of the Christmas Star. Amazing doesn't begin to describe it."

USA TODAY reached out to the users behind the claims for comment.

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Image is an illustration

A Google reverse search of the photo reveals that the image is an illustration and was not captured by the Hubble telescope.

The illustration, which is viewable on Getty Images, is titled, "Glowing Star Stock Vector Space Background - stock vector."

The image's caption reads: "This stock vector illustration features space with a bright star slightly on the top side. It is a combination of small far stars with cross light refractions incorporating bright colors, including vibrant blues and whites. The use of reflection and tone portrays a sense of depth. The image has a bleached-out colorful tone."

The same image is also viewable on iStock Photo, which states that the illustration was uploaded to the site on June 1, 2015, further revealing that the image was not taken recently.

Actual photos of the rare "Christmas star" phenomenon show Jupiter and Saturn close together with two points of light in the dark sky, with Saturn, which is farther from Earth, being the fainter one, USA TODAY reported.

Rice University astronomer Patrick Hartigan told USA TODAY "people are going to have to work a bit" to witness the conjunction and that the two planets "are not going to suddenly look like a brilliant 'Christmas star.'"

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Our rating: False

An image claiming to show the "Christmas star" taken by the Hubble Space Telescope is FALSE, based on our research. The image is an illustration from 2015 and does not resemble actual photos from the recent close alignment of Jupiter and Saturn.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Viral Christmas Star illustration not a photo from Hubble