UPDATE: November 30: Comet Ison Survives Perhelion
It appears to now be fading fast... but who knows?
Last night astronomers were putting the final nail in the coffin for Comet ISON, which had been streaking toward its close encounter with the sun for months, culminating with a perihelion (closest approach of the sun) on Thanksgiving Day.
Described as the “comet of the century” by some and predicted to just “fizzle out” by others, ISON has been a hot topic since it was first discovered by Russian astronomers on September 21, 2012.
While many were gearing up for what could be a spectacular show as the frozen chunk of gas made its way past the sun yesterday afternoon, it later became evident that the comet was on a one-way trip toward obliteration.
Or was it?
As the comet sailed past our solar neighbor late yesterday, astronomers monitoring the comet’s progress declared that it was unlikely that the cosmic visitor survived its encounter with the sun.
“At this point, I do suspect that the comet has broken up and died,” Karl Battams, a comet scientist with the Naval Research Laboratory, said last night during a NASA and Google+ chat from Arizona’s Kitt Peak Observatory, according to a USA Today report yesterday. “Let’s at least give it a couple of more hours before we start writing the obituary.”
However, Battams now believes that some parts of ISON’s nucleus survived perihelion.
“It now looks like some chunk of ISON’s nucleus has indeed made it through the solar corona, and re-emerged,” he said in an interview with CNN’s Amanda Barnett. “It’s throwing off dust and (probably) gas, but we don’t know how long it can sustain that.”
[ Watch the Video: ISON Survives ]
While this is definitely good news for astronomers, it’s far from great news for the comet.
“Now it has emerged and started to brighten, we need to observe it for a few days to get a feel for its behavior,” Battams noted.
It is possible that it still may not survive its harrowing ordeal.
End of excerpt
A must watch presentation on Comet Ison. (You will be taken to continuation of video after seeing excerpt here.) The comet making its way to a flyby of the sun (2.38 PM November 28) is said to hold millions of tons of water (43 minutes into film) as well as other chemicals. Theory still persists as to the origin of our oceans here on Earth and relation to comets. It is fascinating to see this unfold in our universe knowing this comet has been traveling for 4.6 billion years and may hold the answers to the origins of our planet.
I hope to see ISON giving us a spectacular show on its one time pass. What a humbling experience.
Happy Thanksgiving. Give thanks for water.
Hubblesite: Comet Ison
Latest news on ISON: SPACE.com: Comet ISON
Also See: Where Did Earth's Water Originate?
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