It’s not looking good for Comet ISON.
Reports coming in from various monitoring stations and satellites indicate the “Comet of the Century” is dead.
It made its closest approach to the Sun this morning and no one has spotted any sign of the comet since.
That’s putting a damper on hopes for a good comet show in the next few weeks.
UNBREAKING ISON NEWS: It Looks Like SOMETHING IS Emerging From The Sun!
It will take a few more hours until NASA and other agencies can say for sure what the comet’s fate is, but several astronomers are saying ISON likely died during its closest approach.
That said, there still is valuable science that can be performed if ISON has broken up.
ISON coincided with American Thanksgiving, causing a lot of astronomers and journalists to work holiday hours while pundits made jokes about the comet being “roasted” along with the turkey.
As this new movie from SOHO shows, the comet had already disintegrated. Comet ISON is clearly falling apart as it approaches the Sun. Researchers working with the Solar Dynamics Observatory report that they are saw nothing along the track that ISON was expected to follow through the Sun’s atmosphere.
An earlier movie from SOHO shows more of the comet’s approach: The movie spans a day and a half period from Nov. 27th (01:41 UT) to 28th (15:22 UT).
We see that Comet ISON brightened dramatically on November 27 before fading on November 28. That brightening might have been the disintegration event, in which the comet cracked open and spilled its vaporizing contents into space.
There is still a slight chance that some fraction of Comet ISON has survived.
(That would make ISON a headless comet–more appropriate for Halloween than Thanksgiving.)
This article was taken from Dave Reneke’s World of Space and Astronomy.
Follow Astro Dave on Twitter.
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