Comet ISON is confirmed dead after brush with Sun

December 3, 2013
This NASA image obtained on November 27, 2013 shows Comet ISON, in a five-minute exposure taken at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and captured using a color CCD camera attached to a 14" telescope located at Marshall on November 8, 2013

A comet that grabbed attention worldwide for being likened to a massive snowball in space did not survive its brush with the Sun last week, NASA confirmed on Tuesday.

"Though the exact time of ISON's death is uncertain it does appear to be no more. All that is left is a cloud of debris without a nucleus," C Alex Young of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center told AFP in an email.

Dubbed the "Christmas Comet," the icy giant described as a massive, dirty snowball skimmed past the Sun at a distance of just 730,000 miles (1.17 million kilometers) around 1830 GMT on Thursday.

It had been estimated that ISON would undergo temperatures of 4,900 degrees Fahrenheit (2,700 Celsius)and lose three million tonnes of its mass per second as it made its journey around the Sun.

Most astronomers had predicted the , with an estimated diameter of some 0.75 miles (1.2 kilometers), would not survive the flypast.

Still, some observers had held out a sliver of hope that the 4.5 billion-year-old comet might have survived.

Karl Battams, a scientist at the Naval Research Laboratory, wrote a brief obituary for the comet, formally known as C/2012 S1 (ISON) after the telescope called the International Scientific Optical Network used by the Russian astronomers who spotted it in 2012.

"Never one to follow convention, ISON lived a dynamic and unpredictable life, alternating between periods of quiet reflection and violent outburst," Battams wrote.

"Survived by approximately several trillion siblings, Comet ISON leaves behind an unprecedented legacy for astronomers, and the eternal gratitude of an enthralled global audience."

Explore further: Will comet ISON survive its near brush with the Sun?

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1.3 / 5 (11) Dec 03, 2013
This is quite the misleading and misinfo article. There is no proof of the comet's death or otherwise, so why is this article stating that the comet is dead? NASA hasn't given the final word on it yet either since they will be using Hubble to observe it. Something survived the encounter with the Sun.
1.4 / 5 (11) Dec 03, 2013
The cloud of debris will get back in the Oort stripe and slowly the weak but continuous gravity force will join back all that dust and brebuild the comet, even if smaller and weaker.
1 / 5 (7) Dec 03, 2013
"Though the exact time of ISON's death is uncertain it does appear to be no more. All that is left is a cloud of debris without a nucleus," C Alex Young of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center told AFP in an email"
Nothing on the NASA website so is Young's statement merely an opinion?

1.5 / 5 (8) Dec 03, 2013
poor liittle ison, out with a whimper. so long ison, we knew ye well.
Dec 04, 2013
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
not rated yet Dec 04, 2013
XKCD is on top of the analysis:

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