Last week SOHO’s SWAN instrument discovered a bright comet on its way to dive into Sun. It has been named COMET SWAN and it is one of the brightest Kreutz-group comets ever observed by SOHO beside Comet Lovejoy from December last year. Sungrazing Comet SWAN dove into the sun’s atmosphere during the late hours of March 14th and disappear.
The movie bellow from SOHO’s LASCO C2 is showing how Comet SWAN enters the solar corona but does not exit again. The CME emerging from the sun’s northwestern limb near the end of the movie was not caused by this tiny comet’s impact. It is just another eruption of active sunspot 1429.
The SWAN Instrument is designed to observe the solar Lyman alpha photons (121.6 nm) backscattered by the neutral hydrogen atoms present in the interplanetary medium. The background images show the distribution pattern of the backscattered Lyman alpha photons as observed from SOHO. This image, obtained in approximately 24 hours, is then processed to reveal spatial variations of the solar illuminating flux. These spatial variations are correlated to the actual activity on the solar disk. Because SWAN observes backscattered photons, it is actually possible to ‘see’ those which are originating from the farside of the Sun.
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