SOHO (The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO)) watched as a fairly bright comet dove towards the Sun in a white streak and was not seen again after its close encounter (May 10-11, 2011). The comet, probably part of the Kreutz family of comets, was discovered by amateur astronomer Sergey Shurpakov. In this coronagraph the Sun (represented by a white circle) is blocked by the red occulting disk so that the faint structures in the Sun's corona can be discerned. Interestingly, a coronal mass ejection blasted out to the right just as the comet is approaching the Sun.
Scientists, however, have yet to find a convincing physical connection between sun-grazing comets and coronal mass ejections. In fact, analysis of this CME using images from the Solar Dynamics Observatory shows that the CME erupted before the comet came close enough to the solar surface to interact with strong magnetic fields.
The Solar & Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) project is a cooperative effort between the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA. SOHO was designed to study the internal structure of the Sun, its extensive outer atmosphere and the origin of the solar wind, the stream of highly ionized gas that blows continuously outward through the Solar System.
In: Other News, Other
Tags: comet, sun, solar, corona, coronal, mass ejection, SOHO
Location: United States (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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