Zee Media Bureau/Liji Varghese
New Delhi: Astronomers and amateur sky-gazers are waiting with bated breaths as the Comet ISON hurtles towards the Sun for a close encounter on Thanksgiving.
The Comet will either be vaporized by the CME (coronal mass ejection) ejected by the Sun or might possibly put up a spectacular show in the December sky.
The comet, Ison, will pass the sun on Thursday, November 28, lying little more than a million kilometers above the sun’s surface. It will be ~30 times closer to the sun than Encke was in 2007 and more likely to encounter a ferocious solar storm.
Comet ISON entered the field of view of the HI-1 camera on NASA`s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, or STEREO, on November 21, 2013.
Dubbed `Comet of the Century`, this is ISON`s first journey into the inner solar system.
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.
A sungrazer, ISON is among the very few comets to go through the corona of the Sun.
The speed of the comet accelerates as it approaches the sun.
In January, the speed was clocked at about 64,000 kilometres per hour. By last Thursday, with just a week to go, it had accelerated to 240,000 km/h.
By the time ISON slingshots around the sun on Thanksgiving, it will be moving at a mind-boggling speed of 1.3 million km/h.
The comet was discovered in September 2012 by two amateur astronomers using Russia’s International Scientific Optical Network, or Ison, which is how the comet was named.