Another bright comet is diving into the sun. It was discovered just last week by SOHO’s SWAN instrument, so it has been named “Comet SWAN.” The comet’s death plunge ( or “swan dive”) comes just as the sun has unleashed a strong flare and radiation storm around Earth. SOHO images of the comet are confused to some degree by energetic protons striking the camera.
Swan is a Kreutz sungrazer, a fragment of the same ancient comet that produced sungrazing Comet Lovejoy in December 2011.
Will Comet SWAN survive its plunge through the sun’s atmosphere as Comet Lovejoy did? Probably not, but experts also said Comet Lovejoy would not survive, and they were happily wrong. Comet’s SWAN’s closest approach to the sun will likely come on March 14th.
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