Astronomers tracking what they hoped would be the “comet of the Century” say it has flown too close to the Sun and broken up.

Comet Ison, which had been hurtling through space at speeds of 845,000mph, was due to pass within 730,000 miles of the surface of the star at 6.37pm UK time.

It was expected to be met with temperatures of about 2,700C (4,892F) and an intense gravitational pull as it prepared for its solar slingshot.

Had the comet survived, it would have been easily visible in the northern hemisphere early next month.

Instead, scientists saw a trail of dense particles, suggesting it was destroyed as it reached its closest point to the Sun, also known as the perihelion.

Astronomers are still studying data, although the European Space Agency said Ison was “gone”.

A spokesman for Nasa’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) said: “We don’t think it survived because we don’t see any new dust.

“So we think it must have broken up and evaporated…”

Officially known as Comet C/2012 S1, Ison had been given a 30% chance of survival by Carey Lisse, of the US Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. see more

source: skynews