Feeds

Fun-killing fireshow-flunking ZOMBIE COMET ISON only LOOKED alive

Space rock just 'furious fragments', say boffins

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

The images that appeared to capture the resurrection of Comet ISON have turned out to be nothing more than a few snaps of the space rock's ghost, as it has continued to fade from view.

After the comet seemingly came back from the dead after sputtering out just prior to perihelion*, astroboffins are now coming to the conclusion that it actually probably did die at the time – and that subsequent pics of the comet have merely captured some leftover dust.

In the most recent telegram from the International Astronomical Union, Matthew Knight of Lowell Observatory has reported the comet steadily fading after it re-emerged from perihelion, while Karl Battams of the Naval Research Laboratory says that the comet is not looking good in the Saturday images from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory's Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph (SOHO/LASCO).

"There is no visible nucleus or central condensation; what remains is very diffuse, largely transparent to background stars, and fading; it appears that basically a cloud of dust remains from the nucleus," he writes.

The scientists conclude that the comet is likely to have started fragmenting nearly 12 hours before perihelion, when a sudden surge in brightness was seen, but some of the dust particles were able to survive after it broke up, leaving behind the ghost of ISON.

The comet was supposed to put on a spectacular show in the night sky early this month, but Spaceweather.com now reckons that even experienced astrophotographers could have trouble finding its remains.

"No one knows for sure what is inside that fan-shaped cloud. Possibilities include a small remnant nucleus or a "rubble pile" of furiously vaporising fragments," the site said.

"Experienced astrophotographers might be able to capture the comet's fading 'ghost' in the pre-dawn sky of early December, but a naked-eye spectacle is out of the question." ®

* its closest pass over the Sun

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
Bacon-related medical breakthrough wins Ig Nobel prize
Is there ANYTHING cured pork can't do?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.