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Arguing with EU believes is like beating your head against the wall. The harder you hit, the harder it hurts.
The final case is the most straightforward: ISON survives its brush with the sun and emerges with enough nuclear material to continue as an active comet.
If ISON survives intact, it would likely lose enough dust near the Sun to produce a nice tail. In a realistic best-case scenario, the tail would stretch for tens of degrees and light up the early morning sky like Comet McNaught (C/2006 P1) did in 2007.
The best of all possible worlds would be if ISON broke up just a bit, say, into a few large pieces.
This would throw out enough extra material to make the comet really bright from the ground, while giving astronomers pieces of a comet to study for months to come.
UPDATE 2 (Nov. 29 at 02:30 UTC): This beastie continues to surprise. This SOHO image, from 00:18 UTC on Nov. 29, sure looks like something survived intact. At this point all I can say is the same thing I've been saying all along: predicting comets is like predicting cats. Good luck with that. For those keeping score at home, it got bright, then it faded, then it got all smeared out, then it came around the Sun smeared out, and then it seemed to get its act together again. At this point, I refuse to make any further conclusions about this comet; it seems eager to confuse. I've been hearing from comet specialists who are just as baffled... which is fantastic! If we knew what was going on, there'd be nothing more to learn.
reply to post by wildespace
Here is the latest info on ISON. This guy seems to have his act together, nice to read an honest response.
There is strong evidence of interaction between the Sun and ISON on the 19th.
It's normal for scientists to be baffled or surprised, this is how they learn and improve their theories.