Comet ISON might not have disintegrated while flying past sun

   Nov 29, 2:43 pm

Washington, Nov 29 (ANI): Comet ISON may not have broken apart and evaporated in the fierce heat and crushing gravity of the sun before or during a close flyby Thursday.

Well after many casual observers had given up on the comet's survival, updated pictures from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory spacecraft-SOHO-showed what appeared to be a long trail of dust extending away from the sun along ISON's trajectory, brightening sharply toward its tip.

Whether it was just a dust trail, or perhaps dust and larger fragments of ISON-or both-was not immediately clear.

As several observers tweeted and re-tweeted: "It is now clear that Comet #ISON either survived or did not survive, or... maybe both. Hope that clarifies things."

From the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory-SOHO-the trail of Comet ISON can be seen entering the frame at lower right, disappearing behind an occultation disk that blocks the sun's glare and exiting around the 11 o'clock position, brightening as if some portion of the comet's nucleus might have survived the encounter.

Astronomers are not yet sure exactly what happened during ISON's close encounter with the sun.

Matthew Knight, an astronomer at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz., said in a telephone interview that it wasn't clear exactly what SOHO was observing.

"Initially when something came out (after close approach), we thought this is just the dust trail and there's not much left, it's just going to fade away," he said.

"And then images keep coming in and ... the last few, it seems pretty definitely like it's getting brighter. So we do not have a good answer as to what's going on.

"My best guess right now, and it's really only an educated guess, is that there is something left, probably smaller fragments, because it still doesn't look like there's a nuclear condensation. Inbound, the leading edge was brighter. It doesn't look like that. It just looks to me like there are some smaller fragments that may just actually be disintegrating. They just took longer to do it," he said.

But it's also possible, he said, there could be "still a substantial nucleus there and it's actually outgassing. (ANI)

Large-scale asteroids hit Earth 3 to 10 times more than earlier revealed Apr 20, 11:00 am
Washington, Apr 20 (ANI): Three former astronauts have claimed that they have evidence that remote parts of the Earth have endured 3 to 10 times more large-scale asteroid strikes than it has been ever revealed.
Full Story
New technique could help probe Sun's depth Apr 20, 11:00 am
Washington, Apr 20 (ANI): A tracer has been found in the sun's atmosphere to help track the flow of material coursing underneath the sun's surface.
Full Story
NASA's 2.5 ton cargo launched to Space Station aboard SpaceX Resupply Mission Apr 19, 9:52 am
Washington, April 19 (ANI): Nearly 2.5 tons of NASA science investigations and cargo are on the way to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft.
Full Story
NASA's LADEE crashes on moon as planned Apr 19, 9:52 am
Washington, April 19 (ANI): Ground controllers at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, confirmed that NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft impacted the surface of the Moon, as planned, between 9:30 and 10:22 p.m. PDT Thursday, April 17.
Full Story
Comments

LATEST STORIES
TOP VIDEO STORIES
PHOTO GALLERY