Originally published on Fri November 29, 2013 3:29 pm
The Comet ISON appears to have survived after disappearing and being thought dead. New NASA photos show the comet emerging from behind the sun smaller and dimmer, but still throwing a big light trail.
As we reported Thursday night, scientists first said there was a chance that the bright streak seen traveling away from the sun was just debris left after the comet blew apart. But after a late-night analysis, NASA now says the comet's nucleus — or a part of it — survived its brush with the sun and is continuing on its journey.
"This whole event has been a roller coaster ride," says Alex Young, a NASA solar physicist. He was hoping to get a wealth of data as the comet passed through the sights of the spaced-based Solar Dynamics Observatory.
"Even though we didn't see what we thought we were going to see, we still saw something new and exciting, and this is exactly why I do this stuff," Young says.
The comet's re-emergence has renewed hope among scientists and amateur star-gazers who wanted ISON to pass close to Earth and create a spectacular show in December's night skies.