02/12/2013 05:57 GMT

Comet ISON Latest: Did It Survive?

It's not looking good folks.

Hope is fading that Comet ISON survived it's fiery encounter with Sun last Thursday.

Initially Nasa had suggested at least a chunk of the 2KM-wide comet could be seen coming out the other side...

Karl Battams, a comet scientist for the Naval Research Laboratory, told CNN:

"It now looks like some chunk of ISON's nucleus has indeed made it through the solar corona, and re-emerged. It's throwing off dust and (probably) gas, but we don't know how long it can sustain that."

By Sunday however hope had given way to growing despair as whatever was left appeared dimmed.

As yet there's no definitive opinion either way - but let's not give up on it just yet.

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.