Will comet Ison survive its encounter with the sun ? Image Credit: NASA/JPL
It will soon be crunch time for the 'comet of the century' as it passes through the corona of the sun.
Originally a resident of the Oort cloud, a large region of icy bodies located approximately one light year from the sun, comet Ison has been the subject of great interest recently due to its potential to provide one of the most spectacular celestial light shows of the generation.
Believed to be up to 4.6 billion years old, the comet will soon be passing through the sun's corona and scientists don't know exactly what is going to happen. The rendezvous is set to take place on November 28th and will be the defining moment in the comet's journey across the solar system.
One possibility is that when Ison reaches the sun it will be pulled apart by the gravitational forces, causing the whole comet to explode. Another possibility is that the sun's heat will be too much for it to handle and the comet will simply fizzle out.
The third and final option, the one everyone is hoping for, is that as it passes through the corona the comet's gases will be ignited, leaving a brilliant trail burning behind it. If this happens then it should produce a spectacular light show that will be visible all across the northern hemisphere for most of December.
Source: Independent | Comments (19)