Video: Rogue comet dives into the Sun, gets vapourised instantly

In a celestial spectacle, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) captured the final moments of a Kreutz sungrazer comet as it plunged into the Sun on Monday.

This kamikaze comet, part of a family named after the 19th-century German astronomer Heinrich Kreutz, dramatically met its fiery demise.

Kreutz sungrazers are remnants of a colossal comet that fragmented over 2000 years ago. These fragments, often too small to be seen, frequently pass close to the Sun and disintegrate. However, this particular fragment was an exception due to its significant size, making it visible to SOHO’s instruments.


Rogue comet

As the comet made its death dive, it was vapourized by the intense heat and radiation from the Sun. Scientists anticipate that subsequent SOHO data will reveal a small cloud of debris and what remains of the comet’s tail as it emerges from behind the Sun.

The discovery of this comet is not an isolated event. SOHO, a joint mission by the European Space Agency (ESA) and Nasa, has become the most prolific comet finder in history, with the majority of its discoveries being Kreutz sungrazers. These comets are identified by their trajectories, which bring them extremely close to the Sun, sometimes within a few thousand miles.

The comet was vapourized by the intense heat and radiation from the Sun. (Photo: Nasa)

SOHO’s Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph (LASCO) instrument, designed to observe the space around the Sun up to 12.5 million miles away, was initially intended to monitor solar ejections. Yet, it has also become an unexpected tool for detecting sungrazing comets.

The instrument’s ability to block out the bright solar disk allows for the observation of these comets as they make their final approach towards the Sun.

This recent event serves as a reminder of the dynamic and sometimes destructive nature of our solar system.

Published By:

Sibu Kumar Tripathi

Published On:

Dec 12, 2023

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