Saturday, November 2, 2013

Comet ISON looking 'downright weird' as it approaches the sun

Comet ISON looking 'downright weird' as it approaches the sun
Oct 1, 2013 | Scott Sutherland / Yahoo! News Canada

The newest 'comet of the century' has been making a name for itself since it was discovered last year, with claims that it's Nibiru, a doomsday comet, or even an alien spacecraft. However, this comet has been behaving very strangely recently, and a recent analysis of comet images have shown a structure unlike anything scientists have seen from previous comets.

© Yahoo! News Canada
"There is a bright, miniature, long-tailed comet situated within a much larger, but very much fainter and diffuse halo of a coma," said veteran comet-hunter John Bortle, according to

Dr. Jian-Yang Li, of the Planetary Science Institute, put together the computer simulation of the comet that took the Hubble Space Telescope images and removed the signal for the diffuse coma that surrounds the central core. What's left is an image of the comet's nucleus and the concentrated tail of debris behind it.

"At this stage of the game, with the comet about to cross the orbit of Earth, I cannot recall any previous comet in my 50-plus years of comet observing looking quite like this," Bortle said. In fact, comet ISON is crossing Earth's orbit as of today, as it plummets towards a November 28th pass around the sun. After that, it will swing around the sun's north pole and head back out towards the outer solar system, passing almost directly over Earth around the end of the year.

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