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According to NASA scientists a newfound comet defied long odds on December 15, surviving a suicidal dive through the sun‘s hellishly hot atmosphere. Comet Lovejoy plunged through the sun’s corona at about 7 p.m. EST (midnight GMT on December 16), coming within 87,000 miles (140,000 kilometers) of our star’s surface. Temperatures in the corona can reach 2 million degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 million degrees Celsius), so most researchers expected the icy wanderer to be completely destroyed. But Lovejoy proved to be made of tough stuff. A video taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) spacecraft showed the icy object emerging from behind the sun and zipping back off into space.
So according to SDO researchers the comet Lovejoy has survived its journey around the sun to reemerge on the other side. Lovejoy has a core about 660 feet (200 meters) wide. It belongs to a class of comets known as Kreutz sungrazers, whose orbits bring them very close to the sun. Comets plunge into the sun on a regular basis, but they rarely give much advance notice of their suicidal intentions. That’s why scientists were so excited about Lovejoy. Researchers will keep analyzing the images to better understand the comet’s daring solar approach. And now skywatchers apparently have another shot to catch a glimpse of the resilient Lovejoy on Friday morning (on December 16). For observers in North America, the comet will rise approximately 5 to 10 minutes before dawn and will be situated to the upper right of the sun.
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