Once in a while, a comet hits the sun and our star goes all nomnomnom on it. SOHO – NASA’s Solar & Heliospheric Observatory – has captured a few, but never so spectacularly as in this video, recorded over last Tuesday and Wednesday.
These comets are called sungrazers, and 90 per cent of them come from the Kreutz comet group, a family of comets that was detected by Sergey Shrupakov. The Kreutz was a giant comet that disintegrated many centuries ago. The pieces are still up there, way too close to the Sun’s perihelion, and crash against its surface from time to time. This may be one of those pieces.
What makes it so spectacular is that, right the moment the comet arrives to the Sun, a coronal mass ejection blasted out, giving the illusion that a simple lump of ice and dust can disturb our home star. In reality, it’s just a coincidence. Or maybe that wasn’t a comment, but an experimental alien probe powered by antimatter. [NASA Goddard]