The debate continues on whether the 2013 Comet ISON's closest approach to Sun and Earth will live up to the expectations or it will just disappoint. However, there is recent evidence to prove that Comet ISON remains alive, as astronomers using NASA's Hubble Telescope captured an image of the "Comet of the Century."
The image was captured on Wednesday, October 9, while Comet ISON was within the orbit of Mars at about 177 million miles from planet Earth and continues with its journey at 47,000 miles per hour towards the Sun. "The absence of small fragments of debris, breaking off from the comet's reverse, shows that its nucleus is in better health than some experts previously conjectured," the NASA officials explained.
"The most recent image from the Hubble space telescope show no jets of gas, Perhaps there's a 'dark' side of ISON, which won't have ever seen the light of day until the comet goes around the Sun. If such pristine material still exists, ISON may become more active than we currently expect," Josh Sokol, a member of Hubble's ISON blog team, noted.
Additionally, a new study looks into comparing the Comet ISON with the 1962 Comet Seki-Lines and 2002 Comet Hoenig to determine whether Comet ISON will survive or not the close flyby with the Sun. "ISON probably won't give the dazzling show that was hyped a few months ago," Zdenek Sekanina, the principal scientist with NASA's Earth and Space Sciences Division, stated.
The scientist further added: "The trends, at the moment, are certainly not in favor of a spectacular comet." However, Zdenek Sekanina admits that predictions on comets can be a tricky business.
"These are similar comets, as far as their origin is concerned, yet they behaved very differently. At first, ISON looked like it was following Seki-Lines's example, growing steadily brighter. But then, in recent weeks, ISON's brightness has hit a plateau, like the doomed Hoenig. The most recent data are almost at the point where Hoenig fizzled out," Zdenek shared.
The NASA expert pointed out that conclusion on Comet ISON fizzling out cannot be done prematurely since its celestial display will depend on what will happen next. "The comet is active, but it's just barely replacing whatever gas and dust are lost. At the moment, ISON is still surviving, but it is brightening, at a very, very slow pace," Zdenek Sekanina declared.
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2013 Comet ISON: Close Approach to Sun Unlikely Ends 'Comet of the Century' -- Says Scientists' Study at Lowell Observatory and Southwest Research Institute - [READ]
2013 Comet ISON: NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRISE Camera Captures Close Flyby of 'Comet of the Century' to Planet Mars - [READ]
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