November 28, 2013
A comet that left the outer edge of the solar system more than 5.5 million years ago will pass close by the sun on Thursday, and could become visible from Earth in the next week or two if it survives.
Comet Ison is due to pass 730,000 miles from the surface of the sun at 6.37pm GMT on Thursday.
At that distance, the comet will reach temperatures approaching 2,760C (5,000F), hot enough to vaporise not just ices in the comet’s body but dust and rock as well.
Professor Tim O’Brien, associate director of the Jodrell Bank Observatory, told the BBC: “It’s like throwing a snowball into fire. It’s going to be tough for it to survive. But luckily it’s a big object and it moves fast, so it won’t spend too much time close to the sun. There is a lot of uncertainty.”
This article was posted: Thursday, November 28, 2013 at 6:19 am