Just when everyone thought it would be hailed as the "Comet of the Century," NASA said that Comet ISON has burned to death due to its maiden voyage near the sun. MSN reports that it brushed with the sun way too close and to think that its age is just 1 year old.
REUTERS Comet ISON moves quite close to the sun in this image from ESA/NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory captured at 10:51 a.m. EST on November 28, 2013, courtesy of NASA. This image is a composite, with the sun imaged by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory in the center, and SOHO showing the solar atmosphere, the corona. REUTERS/ESA&NASA/SOHO/SDO/Handout via Reuters
It was just recent when the comet brought so many thrills to astronomy experts and media people when it passes the sun on Thanksgiving Day. With its death, the astronomers mourned the loss of a comet that once promised would light up the skies this December. According to Karl Battams, a Naval Research Lab astronomer, the comet ISON was pulled by the gravity of the sun and eventually hit by solar radiation, making it all fall apart since it is an icy snowball.
"Sorry everyone, Comet ISON is dead. But its memory will live on," Mr Battams stated during the American Geophysical Union conference.
Most of the astronomers had high hopes it could have survived and would have rendered a good viewing for the Northern Hemisphere in early December. NASA already prepared various telescopes and a spacecraft to watch it closely brush elbows with the sun but instead found it missing afterwards.
Christian Science Monitor wrote that the Comet ISON got lost into the ball of fire's glare that not even any other sun-observing instruments can be used to track its critical encounter.
Zdenek Sekanina, a senior research scientist for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, explained that it just broke down to nothing. As a matter of fact, Mr Sekanina insisted that the comet has failed to exist even before it reached its closest position to the sun. During the times he has monitored the comet, he noticed that it passed through around 4 to 5 cycles, when it brightens and dims. Each of those cycles was related to ice turning into gas.
Dr Sekanina added that it is common for comets to consistently change which means it can go through growing, vaporising, consolidating, shrinking and a lot more. Once it reached the phase when it cannot do any change anymore, then it just simply stops being a comet.
Comet ISON moves quite close to the sun in this image from ESA/NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory captured at 10:51 a.m. EST on November 28, 2013, courtesy of NASA. This image is a composite, with the sun imaged by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory in the center, and SOHO showing the solar atmosphere, the corona. REUTERS/ESA&NASA/SOHO/SDO/Handout via Reuters