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NASA caught a ‘Sun-Diving’ comet crashing into our star


Gravity: difficult to live with and inconceivable to imagine the universe without it. A comet got caught on the hot end of that strike line over the weekend when the cosmic snowball was captured Sunday morning by NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory.

“The doomed comet was almost certainly a ‘Kreutz sungrazer,’ a fragment of a giant comet that shattered centuries ago,” astronomer Tony Phillips wrote for Spaceweather.com. “A swarm of these fragments orbits the sun, and every day at least one gets too close and disintegrates. today attracts attention.”

The GIF below is made up of a number of SOHO images captured late Saturday and early Sunday. You can see the small comet unable to withstand the intense gravitational pull of our star in the lower right quadrant. As the clock ticks to Sunday, it can be seen disappearing into the Sun’s disk, which is blocked by SOHO’s coronagraph to prevent damage to the instrument.

A comet can be seen crashing into the sun’s lower right limb in this animation taken from NASA’s Solar Observatory.

NASA/So

Since nothing comes out on the other side of the sun, it’s fair to assume that this sungrazer was entirely vaporized by the intense heat.

The animation also provides an interesting insight into how stormy the sun is right now as it approaches peak sunspot activity between now and 2025: An apparent coronal mass ejection can be seen erupting on the far side of the sun as the comet hurtles towards its demise.

Most comets are thought to originate from the outer edges of our solar system in a cold, dark region known as the Oort cloud. Many are on very long orbital trajectories that bring them through the inner solar system and closer to us only once every few decades, centuries, or even longer.

But this particular unnamed comet made its last visit to our neighborhood. Stay in pieces (obliterated), mate.



CNET

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