• July 30, 2013

    ISON Watch: ISON's Slowdown Event

    Credit: SDO

    Comet ISON continues to hurtle toward the Sun, and the theorizing about whether it will or won’t be the comet we all regale our bored grandkids about years from now continues to run rampant. Today on the fizzle front, comet specialist Dr. Ignacio Ferrin puts his money on no full Moon brightness and no survival past its encounter with the Sun. Also the cosmos is vast, harsh, cold, and thinks you – yes, you – are lacking as a person and have a ridiculous haircut.

    “'The light curve has exhibited a "slowdown event" characterized by a constant brightness with no indication of a brightness increase tendency.' … This peculiar behavior of comet ISON is reminiscent of what happened to comet C/2002 O4 Honig who remained with the same brightness for 52 days, after which it disintegrated with no observable residue.”

    ISON's last measurements were a couple of weeks ago, and we won't know anything more until the comet emerges in a few more weeks from its hiding spot behind the Sun. If Comet ISON does break up into pieces, Hubble will have the best view of that event – no other telescope has the resolution to see it so far away. Of course, if it dissolves into a fine powder, there won’t be anything left for Hubble to watch.

    Join us next time on ISON Watch, when we'll discuss your chances of ever finding your one true love in a world of millions of strangers.