During the late hours of July 5th, an unnamed icy comet from the outer solar system dove into the sun and disintegrated. Click on the arrow to witness the death plunge recorded by coronagraphs onboard the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO):
Over the years, SOHO has witnessed many sungrazing comets. According to SOHO Project Scientist Bernhard Fleck, “this is one of the brightest sungrazers SOHO has recorded, similar to the Christmas comet of 1996.”
The comet was probably a member of the Kreutz sungrazer family. Named after a 19th century German astronomer who studied them in detail, Kreutz sungrazers are fragments from the breakup of a single giant comet around a thousand years ago, probably the Great Comet of 1106. Several of these fragments pass by the sun and disintegrate every day. Most are too small to see but occasionally a big fragment like this one attracts attention.
Although the comet has disintegrated, we may be seeing more of it in the days ahead as additional movies from other solar observatories come to light. Stay tuned! (SpaceWeather)
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