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Comet ISON: The Zombie Comet who Refuses to Die

November 29, 2013 News 296
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Image Credit: NASA/SOHO

Image Credit: NASA/SOHO

It is now confirmed; the reports of ISON’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. It is still kicking, and it’s still very bright.

We had a flurry of predictions yesterday regarding the fate of the famous comet. Initially, ISON disappeared completely from our field of view, leading many astronomers to speculate that the comet had completely disintegrated just before it’s rendezvous with the Sun. A faint trail of something had started to reemerge on the other side of the Sun. This was either a continuation of the Comet’s tail or ISON itself.

ison_sohoc2_nov28_1948utc.jpg.CROP.original-originalAfter further analysis, and the collection of more data, it looks like some part of ISON managed to survive. ISON has continued to defy everything we know about comets and science; as it travels farther away from the sun, it continues to brighten steadily after having completely vanished from view only a day earlier.

Elizabeth Howell with Universe Today, affectionately calls the comet “Zombie ISON,” a tradition I think we’ll continue. She also writes, “But the remnants — or whatever ISON is now — kept brightening and brightening and brightening in images from the NASA/European Space Agency Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. The pictures are still puzzling astronomers right now, almost a day after ISON’s closest encounter with the sun.”

A NASA statement released earlier today stated, “late-night analysis from scientists with NASA’s Comet ISON Observing Campaign suggest that there is at least a small nucleus intact.” The weirdest thing about this entire event is ISON is still behaving like a comet. At minimum, assuming it did disintegrate, it should just be another hunk of rock orbiting the Sun (or, it should behave like an asteroid). Karl Battams from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory writes, “One could almost be forgiven for thinking that there’s a comet in the images!”

Image Credit: NASA/SOHO

Image Credit: NASA/SOHO

In conclusion, Phil Plait summarized ISON’s behavior the best in an update he posted last night, “For those keeping score at home, it got bright, then it faded, then it got all smeared out, then it came around the Sun smeared out, and then it seemed to get its act together again. At this point, I refuse to make any further conclusions about this comet; it seems eager to confuse. I’ve been hearing from comet specialists who are just as baffled… which is fantastic! If we knew what was going on, there’d be nothing more to learn.”

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137 Comments

  1. David Richard P November 29, 2013 at 3:52 pm -

    ISON IS still ON: YES! :DD

    Reply
  2. Jason JJ Steel November 29, 2013 at 3:53 pm -

    WooHoo !

    Reply
  3. Tayyeb Mirza November 29, 2013 at 3:53 pm -

    Resurrection

    Reply
  4. Devon M Colvin November 29, 2013 at 3:54 pm -

    Well the article you posted saying it was breaking up also said 3 sentences later that its more likely it hasn’t.

    Reply
    • From Quarks to Quasars November 29, 2013 at 3:56 pm -

      That’s because everyone (including folks like the ESA) let out official statements saying the comet was no more. Then, they started to see it again, so we updated the article with the most recent info we had available to us.

      Reply
    • Devon M Colvin November 29, 2013 at 3:57 pm -

      Damn, maybe they should be paying me the big bucks then.

      Reply
  5. Monica Puckett Daugherty November 29, 2013 at 3:54 pm -

    Yay for Ison! Hope I get to see it once!

    Reply
  6. Jimi Migz November 29, 2013 at 3:54 pm -

    I knew it!

    Reply
  7. Steve Peaceman November 29, 2013 at 3:54 pm -

    Glad to know!

    Reply
  8. Franek Bukowski November 29, 2013 at 3:54 pm -

    Let’s change the comet’s name to PHOENIX

    Reply
    • Chad Sarazin November 29, 2013 at 3:59 pm -

      No it should be the Zombie Comet, much more original, and not as much called Phoenix

      Reply
    • Franek Bukowski November 29, 2013 at 4:02 pm -

      Zombie reborns from being bitten by other zombie. Phoenix reborns in fire from the ashes. I have no doubts which is more accurate.

      Reply
    • Norah Moe November 29, 2013 at 4:47 pm -

      definitely a fitting name. (y)

      Reply
    • Norah Moe November 29, 2013 at 4:47 pm -

      definitely a fitting name. (y)

      Reply
    • Richard Williams November 30, 2013 at 2:51 am -

      aye Franek i saw you on dark matter yesterday Houston we have a crater very funny small world…

      Reply
    • Tim Wakeford November 30, 2013 at 1:00 pm -

      Comet’s way late, musta time warped )

      Reply
    • José Dias Sousa November 30, 2013 at 5:55 pm -

      Zombie Ison it’s more appropriate guys…

      Reply
  9. Marietta Maier-Bachlechner November 29, 2013 at 3:54 pm -

    It seems that ISON has wings :-)

    Reply
  10. Ivan Berdichevsky November 29, 2013 at 3:55 pm -

    ¨Over my cold dead rocks!” – Comet ISON

    Reply
  11. Tony Webb November 29, 2013 at 3:55 pm -

    It’s a holiday miracle.

    Reply
  12. Meghann Ashpool November 29, 2013 at 3:55 pm -

    One zombie invasion I am happy to see!

    Reply
  13. Nick Daniel November 29, 2013 at 3:55 pm -

    Tarla Morris the Sun didn’t murder it.

    Reply
  14. Leo Everett November 29, 2013 at 3:56 pm -

    NASA = Never A Straight Answer

    Reply
  15. Danny Dowling November 29, 2013 at 3:56 pm -

    ISON is on great news

    Reply
  16. Kyle McCue November 29, 2013 at 3:56 pm -

    Wooooooo!!!

    Reply
  17. Akashdeep Deb November 29, 2013 at 3:56 pm -

    IS-OFF ===>>> ISON!

    Reply
  18. Sara Campuzano November 29, 2013 at 3:57 pm -

    … wow…

    Reply
  19. John Boeglin November 29, 2013 at 3:58 pm -

    SAY What?!!!? Oh Boy Oh Oh Boy oh boy oh boy!

    Reply
  20. Jason Huntington November 29, 2013 at 3:59 pm -
    Reply
  21. Mark Lewis November 29, 2013 at 4:00 pm -

    Excellent news!

    Reply
  22. Brutus Maximus Harperius November 29, 2013 at 4:00 pm -

    and then ISON was like “YOLO!”

    Reply
  23. Mike Siemon November 29, 2013 at 4:00 pm -

    I thought a comets tail always pointed away from the sun

    Reply
  24. Jessica Humphrey November 29, 2013 at 4:01 pm -

    Nick Gottier

    Reply
  25. Gaby HG November 29, 2013 at 4:02 pm -

    Yeaaaaaah!!!! (^;

    Reply
  26. Christiaan Todd November 29, 2013 at 4:04 pm -
    Reply
    • Chad Sarazin November 29, 2013 at 4:17 pm -

      Im not saying Ive seen this shit on this page hundreds of times. But Ive seen this shit on this page hundreds of times.

      Reply
    • Todd Frantz November 29, 2013 at 5:02 pm -
      Reply
    • Christiaan Todd November 29, 2013 at 7:37 pm -

      LOL

      Reply
  27. Christiaan Todd November 29, 2013 at 4:04 pm -
    Reply
    • Chad Sarazin November 29, 2013 at 4:17 pm -

      Im not saying Ive seen this shit on this page hundreds of times. But Ive seen this shit on this page hundreds of times.

      Reply
    • Todd Frantz November 29, 2013 at 5:02 pm -
      Reply
  28. Jake Copple November 29, 2013 at 4:09 pm -

    Who drew that white circle on the Sun? Makes it look like titties lol

    Reply
  29. Jake Copple November 29, 2013 at 4:09 pm -

    Who drew that white circle on the Sun? Makes it look like titties lol

    Reply
  30. John Malnar November 29, 2013 at 4:10 pm -

    In this pic I took to capture the halo around the sun could I have inadvertently caught Ison???

    Reply
    • Devon M Colvin November 29, 2013 at 4:12 pm -

      Regardless this picture is awesome!

      Reply
    • From Quarks to Quasars November 29, 2013 at 4:17 pm -

      We’ll, it’s certainly not ISON, and it’s (probably) not Venus (the only two objects that would be visible in those conditions). I assume it’s something on the lens of the camera or some other artifact of photography.

      Reply
    • GrayAlexander Munger November 29, 2013 at 4:19 pm -

      ISON FOR PRESIDENT

      Reply
    • Josh Raichel November 29, 2013 at 4:23 pm -

      sun dog?

      Reply
    • Jose Antonio Suarez November 29, 2013 at 4:26 pm -

      Thats “Nibiru” planet x @ john malnar

      Reply
    • Jason Huntington November 29, 2013 at 4:27 pm -

      THIS is where you post an alien meme.

      Reply
    • Matthias Schulz November 29, 2013 at 4:34 pm -

      Mercury, could be ;)

      Reply
    • Norah Moe November 29, 2013 at 4:45 pm -

      what time did you take the picture? it’s most likely Venus.

      Reply
    • Radu Lupes November 29, 2013 at 4:46 pm -

      Sunglare!

      Reply
    • Phil Morris November 29, 2013 at 4:47 pm -

      I believe this to be lens flare.This happened to me about a month ago:)

      Reply
    • Linda McCord November 29, 2013 at 5:03 pm -

      I like the shot, good going

      Reply
    • Holly Travers November 29, 2013 at 5:11 pm -

      Its not lens flare -_- But a very nice photo. I took a picture of a full sun halo which I saw at college, was very happy I was.

      Reply
    • Jason Capps November 29, 2013 at 5:34 pm -

      its the flood… derp… dam halo…

      Reply
    • Marcus Lundberg November 29, 2013 at 5:44 pm -

      What settings did you use? It looks to me that your aperture and shutter speed is too small and fast respectively for any other celestial bodies to be seen.

      Reply
    • Marlin Keim November 29, 2013 at 6:38 pm -

      I believe it is your shutter

      Reply
    • Kevin Hammers Byrne November 29, 2013 at 7:17 pm -

      Venus

      Reply
    • Mindy Gardner November 29, 2013 at 7:47 pm -

      Wow, its a great pic, I wonder why people feel the need to correct you? jerks, I like the picture just the way it is

      Reply
    • Jason Huntington November 29, 2013 at 8:01 pm -

      People are jerks for telling him it’s not ISON?

      Reply
    • Loopy Martin November 29, 2013 at 8:24 pm -

      Or a satellite; something bright in a low orbit catching a ray?

      Reply
    • Carolyn Heppner November 29, 2013 at 11:15 pm -

      awesome picture!!!! ♥

      Reply
    • Freya Behrndtz November 29, 2013 at 11:25 pm -

      batman.

      Reply
    • Brenden Alexander Hulten November 29, 2013 at 11:57 pm -

      WOOO LOOK AT THAT! COMET OF THE CENTURY HOLY SHIT WOOOOOOOOOOOO WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO COMET OF THE CENTURY HOLY SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh, we’re stupid it’s just going to evaporate. Lol

      Reply
    • Randy Tan November 30, 2013 at 12:49 am -

      Master Chief is coming back to Earth

      Reply
    • Latigo Jay Sharon November 30, 2013 at 1:09 am -

      @Brenden did you read the artical above? it didnt evaporate, as you put it.

      Reply
    • Johns Kottam November 30, 2013 at 4:50 am -

      how did you get that pic?

      Reply
    • Jasiek Kosik November 30, 2013 at 7:22 am -

      I think its a lens flare, but the picture is awesome :D

      Reply
  31. John Malnar November 29, 2013 at 4:10 pm -

    In this pic I took to capture the halo around the sun could I have inadvertently caught Ison???

    Reply
    • Devon M Colvin November 29, 2013 at 4:12 pm -

      Regardless this picture is awesome!

      Reply
    • From Quarks to Quasars November 29, 2013 at 4:17 pm -

      We’ll, it’s certainly not ISON, and it’s (probably) not Venus (the only two objects that would be visible in those conditions). I assume it’s something on the lens of the camera or some other artifact of photography.

      Reply
    • GrayAlexander Munger November 29, 2013 at 4:19 pm -

      ISON FOR PRESIDENT

      Reply
    • Josh Raichel November 29, 2013 at 4:23 pm -

      sun dog?

      Reply
    • Jose Antonio Suarez November 29, 2013 at 4:26 pm -

      Thats “Nibiru” planet x @ john malnar

      Reply
    • Jason Huntington November 29, 2013 at 4:27 pm -

      THIS is where you post an alien meme.

      Reply
    • Matthias Schulz November 29, 2013 at 4:34 pm -

      Mercury, could be ;)

      Reply
    • Norah Moe November 29, 2013 at 4:45 pm -

      what time did you take the picture? it’s most likely Venus.

      Reply
    • Radu Lupes November 29, 2013 at 4:46 pm -

      Sunglare!

      Reply
    • Phil Morris November 29, 2013 at 4:47 pm -

      I believe this to be lens flare.This happened to me about a month ago:)

      Reply
    • Linda McCord November 29, 2013 at 5:03 pm -

      I like the shot, good going

      Reply
  32. Andrew Lever November 29, 2013 at 4:20 pm -

    I f’ing knew he’d do it.

    Reply
  33. Andrew Lever November 29, 2013 at 4:20 pm -

    I f’ing knew he’d do it.

    Reply
  34. Marlin Keim November 29, 2013 at 4:21 pm -

    Schrödinger’s comet

    Reply
    • Kowy Balazs November 29, 2013 at 4:43 pm -

      ought to come in boxes tho

      Reply
    • Frodo November 29, 2013 at 7:13 pm -

      Good one (y)

      Reply
    • Lucy Mae November 29, 2013 at 8:53 pm -

      that’s what I said, hee hee. Actually, I saw it in a physics comic

      Reply
  35. Marlin Keim November 29, 2013 at 4:21 pm -

    Schrödinger’s comet

    Reply
  36. Bryan Verstegen November 29, 2013 at 4:21 pm -

    Maybe somewhat the same effect as putting your hand in molten lead.
    it probably lost quite some mass.
    liquefied on the outside and vaporized a bit while getting a tan.
    I’m more curious about how it just went dark almost instantly.
    Maybe the solar winds or magnetic fields just “ate” all vapor trails?

    Just a curious uneducated fool here ^^

    Reply
  37. Bryan Verstegen November 29, 2013 at 4:21 pm -

    Maybe somewhat the same effect as putting your hand in molten lead.
    it probably lost quite some mass.
    liquefied on the outside and vaporized a bit while getting a tan.
    I’m more curious about how it just went dark almost instantly.
    Maybe the solar winds or magnetic fields just “ate” all vapor trails?

    Just a curious uneducated fool here ^^

    Reply
  38. Frank Carpenter November 29, 2013 at 4:29 pm -

    Exciting news! ISON survived parahelium! Early reports claimed that ISON fizzled out..I didn’t believe it, it was too soon to report ISONS fate. Hopefully we will have an exciting meteor shower come January as we pass through ISONS debris trail.

    Reply
  39. Frank Carpenter November 29, 2013 at 4:29 pm -

    Exciting news! ISON survived parahelium! Early reports claimed that ISON fizzled out..I didn’t believe it, it was too soon to report ISONS fate. Hopefully we will have an exciting meteor shower come January as we pass through ISONS debris trail.

    Reply
  40. North Watt November 29, 2013 at 4:36 pm -

    Its alive.. alive…walking dead comet…

    Reply
  41. John Malnar November 29, 2013 at 4:37 pm -

    Yay. Planet X. Thought it was the Death Star.

    Reply
  42. John Malnar November 29, 2013 at 4:37 pm -

    Yay. Planet X. Thought it was the Death Star.

    Reply
  43. Jason Huntington November 29, 2013 at 4:39 pm -
    Reply
  44. Jason Huntington November 29, 2013 at 4:39 pm -
    Reply
  45. CaitlinandCody Furstenau November 29, 2013 at 4:40 pm -

    Ha! Yesterday IFLS posted it was dead and I commented “reports of my death are greatly exaggerated” -comet ison

    Reply
  46. CaitlinandCody Furstenau November 29, 2013 at 4:40 pm -

    Ha! Yesterday IFLS posted it was dead and I commented “reports of my death are greatly exaggerated” -comet ison

    Reply
    • Bob Benson November 29, 2013 at 5:54 pm -

      FIFLS… String theory synchophants.

      Reply
  47. Jason M Stewart November 29, 2013 at 4:42 pm -

    ISON, then ISOFF, then ISON again! Go lil comet, go!

    Reply
  48. Jason M Stewart November 29, 2013 at 4:42 pm -

    ISON, then ISOFF, then ISON again! Go lil comet, go!

    Reply
    • Kyle Hutchinson November 29, 2013 at 5:09 pm -

      ISON, ISOFF,ISON…..Should call it the Miyagi comet!

      Reply
    • Kyle Hutchinson November 29, 2013 at 5:13 pm -

      Or the Monty Python Comet “I’m not dead yet! ” :P

      Reply
  49. Jamie Herndon November 29, 2013 at 4:50 pm -

    All you armchair astronomers… “I know more than these learned professors with masters and PhDs”

    Reply
  50. Jamie Herndon November 29, 2013 at 4:50 pm -

    All you armchair astronomers… “I know more than these learned professors with masters and PhDs”

    Reply
  51. Michael Madsen November 29, 2013 at 4:50 pm -

    “I feel happy! I feel happy!”

    Reply
  52. Michael Madsen November 29, 2013 at 4:50 pm -

    “I feel happy! I feel happy!”

    Reply
  53. Antonio Kuilan November 29, 2013 at 5:08 pm -

    Why intertwine “zombie” with a comet? :/ *facepalm*

    Reply
  54. Oscar Hoelscher November 29, 2013 at 5:56 pm -

    All hail the zombie comet!

    Reply
  55. James Dutton November 29, 2013 at 7:41 pm -

    FIRST!

    Reply
  56. Michael Keyes November 29, 2013 at 9:16 pm -

    Wonder if the “smears” both before and after perihelion was the magnetosphere and/or solar wind playing havok with the tail debris

    Reply
  57. Art Alexakis November 29, 2013 at 10:09 pm -

    Ok, so ISON is still alive. How come NASA’s SDO spacecraft didn’t catch a single image. What do they say about this? Were they just pointing the camera somewhere else? I am so disappointed at NASA.

    Reply
  58. Mike Waldrop November 30, 2013 at 4:03 am -

    well, coming in that close to the sun should have “slingshot” it into a time warp….guess that blows Star Trek’s theory out the window. Now let’s get back to building that Death Star shall we?

    Reply
  59. Mathew D. Frie November 30, 2013 at 6:55 am -

    Maybe its not a comet

    Reply
  60. Will Messier November 30, 2013 at 11:35 am -

    I’d look again. The most recent picture shows the comet as dimmer than ever. Probably less than magnitude 7 and rapidly fading. The great ISON is dead. What’s left is a fuzzy corpse.

    Reply
  61. Stam Maras November 30, 2013 at 1:56 pm -

    We will send bruce willis to destroy this unbreakable comet…he is the real “die hard”.

    Reply

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