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article imageComet ISON disintegrates as it goes around the sun

By Layne Weiss     Nov 28, 2013 in Science
Kingston Upon Hull - Comet ISON, once deemed the "comet of the century," was destroyed Thursday during its encounter with the sun leaving behind a trail of dust that continued traveling through space, scientists say.
"It does seem that Comet ISON probably hasn't survived this journey," Karl Battams, an astrophysicist at the Naval Research Laboratory, said during a NASA sponsored Google + hangout according to NBC News.
"We see zero sign of a nucleus, which is not good," Battams said.
Solar physicist Alex Young said: "It's unfortunate that it doesn't appear that we'll see it," ABC News reports.
"For whatever reason, we don't know right now, we may never know the reason why it just was not stable enough or perhaps the gravity from the sun (was the cause)," Young said. "The gravity is so strong that each ends experience is different than the other end and that just tears and rips and pulls at the comet and in this case, perhaps it just experienced so much stress that it broke apart and once it broke into its little pieces then they all melted much quicker and perhaps we lost it."
Despite its large size, ISON was probably torn apart due to the immense heat and tidal forces near the Sun, BBC News reports.
The European Space Agency's twitter announced the death of ISON at 9:30 PM GMT.
Our Soho scientists have confirmed, Comet ISON is gone."
NASA's Veronica McGregor joked about ISON being destroyed on Thanksgiving. "The sun may have cooked Comet ISON. ... Now it's time for me to start cooking Thanksgiving dinner," she tweeted.
Comet ISON stands for International Scientific Optical Network. It was discovered over a year ago by Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok.
As it got closer to the sun, its ices began to vaporize, BBC News reports.
It was clear from early on, ISON would not be as spectacular as originally thought. It did not have the brightness experienced comet watchers were hoping for, so scientists feared it wouldn't survive its encounter with the sun.
Soho followed ISON as it began its trip around the sun, but was unable to pick up a clear object when it was supposed to re-emerge.
Other telescopes such as NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, were also unable to detect a clear sign of ISON's nucleus.
Despite the disintegration of the comet, its behavior in the sun's magnetic fields will help scientists understand more about comets, USA Today reports.
"This gives us an opportunity to see and study these magnetic fields in a way we normally couldn't do," said Alex Young."Nature is giving us this unique opportunity to study these magnetic fields."
More about comet ison, Destroyed, Sun, Astronomy, sungazing comet
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