Comet ISON confirmed dead by NASA

By Liji Varghese | Last Updated: Wednesday, December 4, 2013 - 10:09

Zee News Bureau/Liji Varghese

New Delhi: Comet ISON, dubbed the `Comet of the Century` could not survive the close encounter with the Sun on Thanksgiving, NASA confirmed on Tuesday.

Solar scientists, closely observing the event, were expecting the comet to put up a spectacular showing in early December sky. This, after the comet resurfaced on wide-angle views from the space agency’s SOHO spacecraft hours after its closest approach to the sun on Thursday, November 28.

However, hopes faded away by the weekend as the comet appeared so dim that scientists concluded that the encounter must have indeed disintegrated the nucleus and what was visible must have been just the loose pile of rubble.

ISON skimmed past the Sun at a distance of just 730,000 miles around 1830 GMT on November 28.

The comet discovered in September 2012 by two amateur astronomers using Russia’s International Scientific Optical Network (ISON), comes from Oort cloud, a loose nebulous sphere containing billions of icy, rocky objects on the very edge of the Solar System, where it has been for the last 4.6 billion years.

On the NASA Comet ISON Observing Campaign website, Karl Battams, a scientist at the Naval Research Laboratory posted an obituary for the comet also known as C/2012 S1.

"Never one to follow convention, ISON lived a dynamic and unpredictable life," he wrote.

"Alternating between periods of quiet reflection and violent outburst. However, its toughened exterior belied a complex and delicate inner working that only now we are just beginning to understand. In late 2013, Comet ISON demonstrated not only its true beauty but a surprising turn of speed as it reached its career defining moment in the inner solar system.

"Tragically, on November 28, 2013, ISON`s tenacious ambition outweighed its ability, and our shining green candle in the solar wind began to burn out."

First Published: Wednesday, December 4, 2013 - 10:02
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