Big comet makes close approach to the Sun

Big comet makes close approach to the Sun

A new comet was recorded by the NASA/ESA SOHO C3 and C3 coronagraphs from December 10 to 12, 2023, as it embarked on what appears to be its final journey toward the Sun.

The comet entered the C3 view around 20:40 UTC on December 10, and C2 around 20:00 UTC on December 11.

By 08:00 UTC on December 12, only faint parts of the comet’s trail were visible, indicating that it had disintegrated during its approach. We’ll have to wait for fresh imagery to see if something emerges on the other side.

Sundiving comets, also known as Kreutz sungrazers, are comets that pass extremely close to the Sun. These comets often have orbits that take them through the Sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona, where they can be vaporized or torn apart by the Sun’s intense heat and tidal forces.

The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), a joint mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA, has been a crucial asset in detecting and studying these sundiving comets.

Launched in 1995, SOHO was designed to study the Sun from its interior to its outer atmosphere. However, over its mission lifetime, SOHO has become the greatest comet finder in human history, an achievement that was not originally planned when the mission was conceived​​​​.


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