GREENBELT, Md. (CBS Houston) – At first it looked like Comet ISON may have broken up and evaporated as it neared the sun.
But images from NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) show the mysterious celestial object may have survived its close encounter, reports Space.com.
Astronomers speculate that the shiny blobs seen in the satellite images may be debris from the destruction of the comet’s core of ice and rock, or perhaps some tiny piece of the core is still intact.
But they say there is a sliver of hope that the bulk of the comet may have reformed and will give Earthbound stargazers one of the brightest celestial shows ever recorded.
Our planet will pass through the trail of ISON, or whatever remains, next month.
The question of ISON’s survival has been asked since the discovery of the comet a year ago.
The object comes from the Oort cloud, a band of asteroids, dust and rubble from the creation of the solar system that orbits about a light year from our sun.
It’s solar journey brought it to within 684,000 miles of the heliosphere, close enough that scientists expected the sun’s powerful gravity and strong solar radiation to have an effect on ISON.
Astronomers will keep watching ISON, hoping that whatever happens to it, we’ll learn more about the creation of our solar system.