'Comet of the Century' Likely Didn't Survive Sun Encounter

Scientists think ISON broke up into pieces
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 28, 2013 2:54 PM CST
In this frame grab taken from enhanced video made by NASA's STEREO-A spacecraft, comet ISON, left, approaches the sun on Nov. 25, 2013.   ((AP Photo/NASA))
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(Newser) – Scientists say it appears a comet from the fringes of the solar system didn't survive its close encounter with the sizzling sun. Images from NASA spacecraft showed Comet ISON approaching for its slingshot around the sun today, but nothing coming out on the other side. In a Google+ hangout, US Navy solar researcher Karl Battams said "ISON probably hasn't survived this journey." Phil Plait, an astronomer who runs the "Bad Astronomy" blog, agreed, saying "I don't think the comet made it."

It had been billed as the "comet of the century" and could have provided a spectacular holiday light show. Still, Plait said, it wouldn't be all bad news if the 4.5-billion-year-old rock broke up into pieces, because astronomers might be able to study the pieces and learn more about comets. (Read more comet stories.)

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