Comet ISON – First Visit to Solar System

“Even if this comet survives passage (of the sun), which is by no means guaranteed because it's getting within 1/10th of a solar radii of the sun, it can be split up into many small pieces, which themselves could evaporate away. ...We really don't know.”

- Karl Hibbits, Ph.D., John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory

 

July 26, 2013  - Long before any human knew about it, a half-mile-diameter clump of ice and rock far beyond Pluto began to move from its position in the primordial, cold Oort cloud that surrounds our solar system. Perturbed to move toward the sun's gravitational pull, the rough ball of ice for the first time headed into the solar system.

Graphic depiction of the Oort cloud's spherical distribution of comets, rocks  and dust around the solar system. The orbits of Uranus and Pluto are depicted at 50  astronomical units (A.U.) from the sun (1 A. U. = 93 million miles). The distance from our sun  to the outer limits of the Oort comet cloud is about three trillion miles, or one-half a light year.  Our nearest star, Alpha Centauri, is four light years away.
Graphic depiction of the Oort cloud's spherical distribution of comets, rocks and dust around the solar system. The orbits of Uranus and Pluto are depicted at 50 astronomical units (A.U.) from the sun (1 A. U. = 93 million miles). The distance from our sun to the outer limits of the Oort comet cloud is about three trillion miles, or one-half a light year. Our nearest star, Alpha Centauri, is four light years away.

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