Comet ISON's Death Dive

Comet ISON's Death Dive

This composite image from ESA/NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) combines a series of images of sungrazing comet ISON. The Sun is blocked from view with a small disk in front of the telescope. The Sun's position is marked by the white circle.

ISON made its closest approach to the Sun during the evening of November 28, 2013, passing just 1.2 million kilometers from the Sun's visible surface. At first the comet was thought to have disintegrated during its fiery encounter, with just a remnant of its tail continuing along ISON's trajectory. But, the next day, it seemed clear that something had survived after all -- possibly a small chunk of ISON's nucleus, along with a lot of dust. This progressively faded as it edged towards SOHO's field of view on 30 November.

Scientists are still analyzing the data collected during ISON's encounter with the Sun to decipher the nail-biting chain of events that took place.

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  • Copyright/Owner: Smithsonian Institution
  • Source: SOHO (ESA & NASA)
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