Looks like ISON has disintegrated during its turn around the sun. Given the radiation (estimated temperature 5,000F/2,760C – hot enough to vaporize rock), solar wind, and the tidal-forces (even though smallish, thanks Gavin) associated with its proximity and nearly 800,000 mph speed around the turn about that time, I’m not surprised. Watch the second video below where it goes “poof” (h/t to reader “David”)
NASA’s spaceweather.com reports:
Comet ISON is making its closest approach to the sun, and evidence is mounting that the nucleus of the comet has disintegrated. Watch the head of the comet fade dramatically as it approaches the sun in this SOHO coronagraph movie:
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The movie spans a day and a half period from Nov. 27th (01:41 UT) to 28th (15:22 UT). In the early hours of the 27th, Comet ISON brightens dramatically, saturating the pixels in the digital camera of the SOHO’s coronagraph. By mid-day on the 28th, however, the comet’s head appears to fade. This is a sign that the nucleus has likely fallen apart. That would make ISON a headless comet–more appropriate for Halloween than Thanksgiving.
Researchers working with the Solar Dynamics Observatory report that they are seeing nothing along the track that ISON was expected to follow through the sun’s atmosphere.
UPDATE: Watch it go “poof” here:
UPDATE2: NASA JPL Insider Amy Mainzer tweets some last minute hope that ISON may be “undead”
A zombie comet, how cool is that?
UPDATE3: Now it seems back again, but looking entirely different than before. A number of astronomers indicate they don’t know what is left of it, maybe a chunk, maybe a smooshed drawn out nucleus or something else. Image from SOHO’s coronagraph: