NASA news: Watch the incredible moment a comet slams into the Sun at high speeds
The comet’s death plunge was caught on camera by NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). The comet appeared on SOHO’s sensors on Wednesday, August 14, as a tiny bright blimp. A day later, on August 15, the comet was pulled towards the Sun by the star’s gravitational pull. In the SOHO video, you can see the comet first appear in the lower-left corner on Wednesday evening.
The comet then slowly flies across the screen towards the centre of SOHO’s view where the Sun is hidden behind an occulter disc.
As the comet flies by, stars twinkle in the background and dozens of other objects zip by.
The comet most likely represents a family of icy space rocks known as Kreutz Sungrazers.
Sungrazing comets orbit the Sun from incredibly close distances and occasionally fly into the star.
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Although most sungrazers will evaporate under the Sun’s intense heat, some have been known to survive the flybys.
You can see the comet sublimate its frozen outer laters as it leaves behind a glowing trail of gas.
A comet tail or coma is a dusty trail of gas illuminated by the Sun.
The blue video footage was filmed by the Large Angle Spectrometric Coronagraph or LASCO.
The tool blots out the Sun to create an artificial solar eclipse within the instrument itself.
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You can still make out the Sun’s glowing corona around the edges of the obscuring disc.
NASA said: “The position of the solar disc is indicated in the images by the white circle.
“The most prominent feature of the corona are usually the coronal streamers, those nearly radial bands that can be seen both in C2 and C3.”
Right on top of the blotted out Sun is a bright source of light, which according to Space Weather astronomer Tony Phillips, is the planet Venus.
To the far left of the Sun is another bright blimp – the Red Planet Mars.
NASA said: “Many sungrazing comets follow a similar orbit, called the Kreutz Path, and collectively belong to a population called the Kreutz Group.
“In fact, close to 85 percent of the sungrazers seen by the SOHO satellite are on this orbital highway.
“Scientists think one extremely large sungrazing comet broke up hundreds, or even thousands, of years ago, and the current comets on the Kreutz Path are the leftover fragments of it.”