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Unusual comet skirting past the Sun

unusual-comet-skirting-past-the-sun

An unusual comet named SOHO-2875 is skirting past the Sun since February 18, 2015 and is still visible on LASCO C3 imagery.

At first it appeared to be a small object about to be disintegrated by the Sun's heat, but surprisingly it emerged intact and is now brightening as it recedes from the Sun. 

Although most comets SOHO sees belong to the Kreutz family of comets (fragments from the breakup of a single giant comet many centuries ago), SOHO-2875 is not one of them.

"It's a 'non-group comet,' meaning that it does not appear to be related to any other comet or comet family that we have on record," explains Karl Battams of the Naval Research Lab.

SOHO-2875 at first appears as a faint dot in the upper right, then eventually swoops just under the Sun. Towards the end of the video, as the comet begins to sport a tail, the Sun bursts out with a Coronal Mass Ejection to add something more to the scene.

"Non-group comets like this appear a few times a year, so in that sense it's not too unusual," Battams said for SpaceWeather.

"But this one is relatively bright. The big question most people will have now is, Can I see it, or will I be able to see it, from Earth? At first I thought the answer was no. But I am very pleasantly surprised – shocked in fact!"

"The comet has brightened dramatically and now is sporting an increasingly impressive tail. Visibility from Earth in a few weeks is no longer out of the question, although I still wouldn't put money on it," Battams said.

Featured image: Composite of NASA/ESA LASCO C2 and C3 / NASA SDO AIA 304. Annotation: The Watchers

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