Schrödinger’s Comet

The little puff to the lower right of the sun intrigues scientists. Did ISON – or part of ISON – survive?

After impressing us yesterday, comet ISON faded dramatically overnight, and left us with a comet with no apparent nucleus in the SOHO/LASCO C2 images. As the comet plunged through the solar atmosphere, and failed to put on a show in the SDO images, we understandably concluded that ISON had succumbed to its passage and died a fiery death. Except it didn’t. Well, maybe…

After perihelion, a very faint smudge of dust appeared in the the LASCO C2 images along ISON’s orbit. This surprised us a little, but we have seen puffs of dust from Sungrazer tails, so it didn’t surprise us enormously and didn’t change our diagnosis. We watched and waited for that dust trail to fade away. Except it didn’t.

Now, in the latest LASCO C3 images, we are seeing something beginning to gradually brighten up again. One could almost be forgiven for thinking that there’s a comet in the images! Via Small Worlds: Enigmatic Comet.

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