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Published: Monday, 12/2/2013

Hubble Telescope best shot at learning comet fate

ASSOCIATED PRESS
In this combination of three images provided by NASA, comet ISON appears as a white smear heading up and away from the sun on Thursday and Friday. In this combination of three images provided by NASA, comet ISON appears as a white smear heading up and away from the sun on Thursday and Friday.
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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — It’s all up to Hubble.

NASA said Monday the Hubble Space Telescope is the best bet for figuring out whether Comet ISON disintegrated during its brush with the sun last week.

A pair of solar observatories saw something emerge from around the sun following ISON’s close approach on Thanksgiving Day. But scientists don’t know whether the spot of light was merely the comet’s shattered remains or what’s left of its nucleus.

Over the coming week, scientists will keep a lookout for any brightening. Hubble should put the matter to rest in mid-December, when the comet’s remnants are far enough from the sun for safe viewing.

ISON was making its first visit to the inner solar system. It was discovered by Russian astronomers last year.



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