For the First Time Seen Comet Death Dive Into Sun

For the first time, a death-diving comet has been observed as it vaporized in the sun’s atmosphere, thanks to new data from a NASA satellite. More than a thousand known comets are so-called Kreutz sungrazers, a family of icy bodies that pass very near to the sun’s surface on their orbits through the solar system. Using NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), astronomers are able to spot many of these sungrazers as they get close to our star. Now, using a variety of data from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), astronomers have been able to watch a sungrazer’s last moments as it disintegrated inside the sun’s atmosphere.

Using Many Instruments to Track Comet

But on December 2, 2011, the discovery of a new Kreutz-family comet was announced. Discovering a comet before it moves into view of space-based telescopes, gives scientists the opportunity to prepare the telescopes for the best possible observations. Indeed, since comet Lovejoy was visible from the ground, scientists have high hopes that this might be an exceptionally bright comet,

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