An amazing new image from NASA shows a comet being gobbled up by the sun.
A satellite that has been studying the sun for the past 20 years has just captured images of a comet being vaporized by our nearest star. The comet was spotted by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) on Aug. 1 as it approached the sun, moving at an incredible speed of 1.3 million miles per hour before disappearing around the right side of the sun, never emerging from the other side, according to a NASA statement.
The comet is believed to come from the Kreutz group, which is a group of comets thought to have broken off from a larger comet centuries ago and now are in highly elliptical orbits that go from near the sun to all the way past Pluto.
NASA and the European Space Agency launched SOHO back in 1995 as a two-year mission to study the sun’s internal structure, as well as its outer atmosphere and solar wind. The satellite certainly outlived that original mission, however, still going strong more than 20 years later.
The statement is below:
ESA and NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO, saw a bright comet plunge toward the sun on Aug. 3-4, 2016, at nearly 1.3 million miles per hour. Comets are chunks of ice and dust that orbit the sun, usually on highly elliptical orbits that carry them far beyond the orbit of Pluto at their farthest points. This comet, first spotted by SOHO on Aug. 1, is part of the Kreutz family of comets, a group of comets with related orbits that broke off of a huge comet several centuries ago.
This comet didn’t fall into the sun, but rather whipped around it – or at least, it would have if it had survived its journey. Like most sungrazing comets, this comet was torn apart and vaporized by the intense forces near the sun.
The disk of the sun is represented by the white circle in this image.