Comet ISON is not thought to have survived its brush with the sun yesterday.
The comet, which has been travelling from the edge of the solar system for the last 5,5-million years, yesterday passed within 1,2-million km of the sun – and disappeared.
Watched by a number of solar observatories, the comet went around the sun yesterday (28 November), making its closest approach to the star – its perihelion.
While the fate of the comet is not yet established, it is likely that it did not survive the trip.
The comet grew faint while within both the view of NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, and the joint European Space Agency and NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. And it was not visible at all in NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.
“We didn’t see Comet ISON in SDO,” says Dean Pesnell, project scientist for SDO. “So we think it must have broken up and evaporated before it reached perihelion.”
This means that Comet ISON will not be visible in the night sky in December. However, the wealth of observations gathered of the comet over the last year will provide great research opportunities for some time.
One important question will simply be to figure out why it is no longer visible.
* The picture from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the sun, but no Comet ISON was seen. A white plus sign shows where the Comet should have appeared. It is likely that the comet did not survive the trip.
Image Credit: NASA/SDO