THE RUNDOWN
A BLOG OF NEWS AND INSIGHT

Update: Comet ISON dead at 4.5 billion years old

BY newsdesk  December 3, 2013 at 3:15 PM EST

Video by NASA

Updated 3:00 p.m. EST | NASA confirmed Tuesday that Comet ISON did not survive its journey around the sun, vaporized by solar radiation.

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

In a memoriam on NASA’s Comet ISON Observing Campaign website, Karl Battams writes that the celestial body was “born 4.5 billion BC, fragmented Nov. 28, 2013 (age 4.5 billion yrs old).”

UPDATED FROM: November 29, 2013 at 1:48 p.m. ET

Several solar observatories watched in anticipation Thursday as Comet ISON neared its first journey around the sun. When the comet grew faint through the view of international telescopes, NASA concluded it was likely ISON did not survive the trip. However, new hope that Comet ISON may be showing signs of life surfaced late Thursday night. A streak of bright material streaming away from the sun appeared in observatories suggesting there is at least a small nucleus of the comet still intact.

For now, it looks like at least some of Comet ISON may have survived. Carey Lisse, senior research scientist at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory:

“The comet went through a major heating event,” he said. “We may be seeing just emission from rubble and debris in the comet’s trail, along its orbit, or we may be seeing the resumption of cometary activity from a sizable nucleus-sized chunk of ISON. Recovery of the comet by radio telescopes and the NASA/IRTF next week will tell us more about what has happened.”

UPDATED FROM: November 28, 2013 at 4:35 p.m. ET

Comet ISON moves ever closer to the sun in this movie from the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, captured in the early hours of Nov. 27, 2013. Courtesy: ESA/NASA/SOHO

NASA has some disappointing news to share with those looking forward to seeing comet ISON light up the sky come December. As ISON made its first trip around the sun Thursday, passing just 684,00 miles above the surface, the delicate “dirty snowball” made of ice and dust appears to have been destroyed in its own sort of Thanksgiving roasting, BBC reports. Telescopes tracking Comet ISON saw it disappear behind the sun, but then failed to see it emerge as expected.

Stargazers can start looking for remains of Comet ISON — if any survived — around Dec. 7. The scattered dust from the comet could still create a show in the sky over the North Pole through December.

Follow along as NASA continues to learn more.

H/T Lauren Ehrler

Update: Comet ISON may have survived close encounter with the sun

BY newsdesk  November 29, 2013 at 1:48 PM EST

Material from Comet ISON appeared on the other side of the sun on Thursday evening, despite not having been seen in observations during its closest approach to the sun. Courtesy NASA

Several solar observatories watched in anticipation Thursday as Comet ISON neared its first journey around the sun. When the comet grew faint through the view of international telescopes, NASA concluded it was likely ISON did not survive the trip. However, new hope that Comet ISON may be showing signs of life surfaced late Thursday night. A streak of bright material streaming away from the sun appeared in observatories suggesting there is at least a small nucleus of the comet still intact.

For now, it looks like at least some of Comet ISON may have survived. Carey Lisse, senior research scientist at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory:

“The comet went through a major heating event,” he said. “We may be seeing just emission from rubble and debris in the comet’s trail, along its orbit, or we may be seeing the resumption of cometary activity from a sizable nucleus-sized chunk of ISON. Recovery of the comet by radio telescopes and the NASA/IRTF next week will tell us more about what has happened.”

UPDATED FROM: November 28, 2013 at 4:35 p.m. ET

Comet ISON moves ever closer to the sun in this movie from the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, captured in the early hours of Nov. 27, 2013. Courtesy: ESA/NASA/SOHO

NASA has some disappointing news to share with those looking forward to seeing comet ISON light up the sky come December. As ISON made its first trip around the sun Thursday, passing just 684,00 miles above the surface, the delicate “dirty snowball” made of ice and dust appears to have been destroyed in its own sort of Thanksgiving roasting, BBC reports. Telescopes tracking Comet ISON saw it disappear behind the sun, but then failed to see it emerge as expected.

Stargazers can start looking for remains of Comet ISON — if any survived — around Dec. 7. The scattered dust from the comet could still create a show in the sky over the North Pole through December.

Follow along as NASA continues to learn more.