News / Science & Technology

'Comet of the Century' Already May Have Fizzled Out

Comet ISON is shown in this NASA handout photographed by the Hubble telescope, April 10, 2013.
Comet ISON is shown in this NASA handout photographed by the Hubble telescope, April 10, 2013.
Reuters
Astronomers slated to meet this week to discuss observing plans for Comet ISON may not have much to talk about. The so-called “Comet of the Century” may already have fizzled out.
 
“The future of comet ISON does not look bright,” astronomer Ignacio Ferrin, with the University of Antioquia in Colombia, said in a statement on Monday.
 
Ferrin's calculations show the comet, which is currently moving toward the sun at 16 miles (26 km) per second, has not brightened since mid-January. That may be because the comet is already out of ice particles in its body, which melt as the comet moves closer to the sun, creating a long, bright tail.
 
Another theory is that the comet is covered in a layer of silicate dust that snuffs out water vapor and other gasses that brighten the comet.
 
“Comet ISON has been on a standstill for more than 132 days ... a rather puzzling feat,” Ferrin wrote in a paper submitted to the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and posted online at the archival site arXiv.org.
 
The comet, named ISON for the International Scientific Optical Network that made its discovery, was found in September 2012 by two amateur Russian astronomers.
 
It is due to pass about 724,000 miles (1.2 million km) from the sun on Nov. 28. The relatively close pass was expected to create a massive tail that some scientists predict will be visible even in daylight.
 
If it survives, that is. At that distance, the comet would reach temperatures of about 4,900 degrees Fahrenheit (2,700 degrees Celsius) - hot enough to melt lead. It may also be pulled apart by the sun's gravity.
 
Scientists believe the comet hails from the Oort Cloud, a cluster of icy rocks that circle the sun about 50,000 times farther away than Earth's orbit. Calculations show Comet ISON is making its first - and possibly last - voyage into the inner solar system.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid