A new, small comet grazing route to the Sun

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A new, small comet grazing route to the Sun


Credit: SOHO

Another comet grazing belonging to the family of Kreutz, is to dive in the solar atmosphere. Just like the previous one, this will have no possibility of "salvation" as soon will touch the hot atmosphere of our star to its perihelion. The coronagraphs on board the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), are monitoring the star haired great about 10 meters, consists of a frozen core, that is already steaming under the bombardment of the Sun's radiation. This type of fragments, probably originate from disruption of a large comet passed, the sun come up in swarms, resulting in multiple events over a few days. It would not be surprising, in fact, if this episode was followed by others of a similar nature.

A new, small comet grazing route to the Sun


In 1888, the astronomer Heinrich Kreutz (1854-1907), observed that some comets followed more or less the same orbit and passing very close to our star. In honor to the work of the scientist, this special group of comets was called Sungrazers Kreutz, a family that represents 85% of all grazing comets. These celestial objects passed perihelion very close to the surface of the Sun, at a distance that sometimes reaches a few thousand kilometers. While the smallest can evaporate during this flyby, the most massive can survive several perihelia; However, the intense tidal forces they are subjected to the fracture almost always into fragments of the size smaller. Until 1978, it had been identified only a dozen. Since 1979, the space observatories in orbit began to detect these comets with instruments called coronagraphs. Currently, thanks to space telescopes such as SOHO, STEREO and SDO, we know about 2500. Although many of these items do not survive the flyby with our star, some of them resist long enough to generate performances worthy of note.

A new, small comet grazing route to the Sun


Credit: Science / AAAS. Picture Archive

Two of these objects (seen in 1843 and 1882) have not only developed very long queues, but have also gained the rare distinction of being quite bright enough to be seen in broad daylight and with the naked eye! The brightest comet of the twentieth century appeared in the autumn of 1965: Comet Ikeya-Seki. That year, on October 21, many could easily see this comet with the naked eye the sun hiding behind the side of a house or simply with an outstretched hand. In Japan the comet took a brightness of 10 times that of the full Moon. It dates back to last December, the last show of the comet Lovejoy, who after resisting unexpectedly in step with our star, was "turned on" in the southern skies, where amateur and professional astronomers were able to admire this amazing comet grazing.

Immediately after the passage of these objects is not uncommon to be observed coronal mass ejection escape from the atmosphere of the sun. Currently there is no known mechanism that could suggest a correlation, because even such a small object would not the possibility of destabilizing the Sun's magnetic field. In addition, this comet was still millions of kilometers away when the plasma cloud was taken up by space telescopes.