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Archive for November 29th, 2013

Nov 29, 2013 Comet Ison seen exiting the sun

This comet has been the talk of the day in Christian circles as a candle lighting the Hanukkah festival and the heralding of the coming of Christ. In the video it is seen slinging past the sun so it is alive and well and its demise was not tobe.

It still remains an unknown as to its prophetic significance.


Only mostly dead: Astronomers puzzle over zombie Comet ISON

7 hours ago

Time-lapse imagery from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory shows Comet ISON streaking around the sun, with a bright object coming out the other side. In the SOHO images, the sun’s glare is blocked by an occulting disk.

Like the hero in “The Princess Bride,” Comet ISON appears to be only mostly dead, raising a myriad of questions for scientists and skywatchers.

Images from sun-watching satellites show that something is still kicking after ISON’s fateful close encounter with the sun on Thanksgiving Day — but what is it? A dust cloud, or the battered remnant of the “dirty snowball” of a nucleus? What kind of weird tail (or tails) is it sprouting? Why wasn’t it spotted by a NASA probe during its closest approach to the sun? And will we be able to see anything in the night sky, as long hoped?

It’s “a tad too early still” to say exactly what’s going on, said Karl Battams, an astrophysicist from the Naval Research Laboratory who has been monitoring ISON’s mostly-deadness from Arizona’s Kitt Peak National Observatory.

“Seems maybe something is still producing dust,” he wrote Friday in a Twitter update, “but whether it’s a coherent nucleus or a dust ball, we don’t know.”

Just a day earlier, Battams and other experts said ISON was looking like an “ex-comet,” partly based on the fact that nothing showed up in imagery from NASA’s sharpest-eyed sun-watching satellite, the Solar Dynamics Observatory. But within hours, other satellites — including NASA’s STEREO spacecraft and the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO — were tracking the movement of a bright spot heading away from the sun.

On its own Twitter account, the team behind the Solar Dynamics Observatory mission said “scientists are still looking at the data to figure out why ISON was not visible” during Thursday’s closest approach to the sun, known as perihelion.

ISON’s reappearance was only the latest head-turning twist in the comet’s history. When Russian astronomers with the International Scientific Optical Network discovered the comet in September 2012, some observers said there was a chance it could get so bright in the night sky that it’d rate as “the comet of the century.” An analysis of its orbit showed that ISON was a pristine comet, coming in from the farthest edge of the solar system for the first time, perhaps the only time. Never before had a comet from that far away been tracked on a course coming so close to the sun.

Astronomers eventually tempered their predictions, suggesting that ISON could get as bright for Northern Hemisphere observers as Comet Lovejoy did for Southern Hemisphere observers in 2011. If, that is, ISON survived its swing around the sun.

So did enough of ISON survive to put on a show? What will skywatchers see in pre-dawn skies next week? Battams and other experts say they’ll need more observations before they can even venture a guess. In the meantime, one thing’s for sure: ISON may not look like a normal comet, but it’s still at least slightly alive.

Astronomers at Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research said they matched up the latest observations of ISON with computer models of comet behavior — and concluded that the nucleus was still spewing out dust during perihelion. That would explain the current “two-tailed” or fan-tailed appearance of the mostly-dead blob that’s now being tracked.

“From the assessments, it is not clear whether the nucleus still exists or whether it partially fragmented on its fiery swing around the sun,” the institute said in a news release. Additional imagery, due to be collected on Saturday, may tell the tail … er, tale.

Nando end

Written by twelvebooks

November 29, 2013 at 8:39 pm