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Year in Review: Visitor from the Oort cloud

Comet ISON meets demise in solar flyby

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6:45am, December 27, 2013

SHORT LIVED  Comet ISON starts as a streak (left), disappears into the sun’s corona (red) and fades (right) as it emerges from the close encounter. This composite, time-lapse image shows the comet’s path from November 28 to December 1.

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Comet ISON was an ordinary-sized comet with an extraordinary story. It started out millions of years ago in the faraway Oort cloud (SN: 10/19/13, p. 19), where remnants of the early solar system hang out in deep freeze. A passing star may have given one of these remnants a nudge, launching it on a journey that would bring it to within 1.2 million kilometers of the sun in 2013.

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