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Comet ISON Is Dead, Nasa Confirms

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He is dead then.

Nasa has announced that Comet Ison - once called the 'Comet of the Century' - was largely destroyed after grazing the surface of the Sun.

The comet came within 750,000 miles of the Sun on Thursday, an adventure that concluded a roughly three million year journey from the Oort Cloud at the edge of our Solar System to its very centre.

Shortly after the apparently cataclysmic pass by the Sun, it had been hoped that some part of the comet had survived.

But gradually over the weekend hopes faded along with the dying light of the comet.

Now, in a post on the Nasa Comet ISON Observing Campaign website, Karl Battams posted a full and very entertaining obituary for the heroic ball of dust, ice and gas.

"Never one to follow convention, ISON lived a dynamic and unpredictable life," he wrote.

"Alternating between periods of quiet reflection and violent outburst. However, its toughened exterior belied a complex and delicate inner working that only now we are just beginning to understand. In late 2013, Comet ISON demonstrated not only its true beauty but a surprising turn of speed as it reached its career defining moment in the inner solar system.

"Tragically, on November 28, 2013, ISON's tenacious ambition outweighed its ability, and our shining green candle in the solar wind began to burn out."

The comet was discovered last year by two amateur astronomers using Russia's International Scientific Optical Network (Ison).

It was born in the Oort cloud, a shell of scattered icy objects right at the outermost edge of the Solar System. The cloud is nearly a light year from the sun, a quarter of the distance to our nearest neighbouring star, Proxima Centauri.

Sometimes a comet is nudged out of the cloud by the gravitational tug of a passing star, and sent on a journey taking millions of years that eventually brings it into the inner Solar System.

Computer models show that Ison is one such comet. However, it is unusual in being a first-time visitor and also in a sun-grazing orbit.

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