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Thursday, August 04, 2016

 

A Kreutz Comet Meets its Doom

Kreutz comet in SOHO LASCO C3 imager on 3 August at its brightestKreutz comet in SOHO C2 imager on 4 August.Kreutz comet in STEREO COR2 imager on 4 August.
Animation of Kreutz comet in SOHO LASCO C3 imager on 4 August.Animation of Kreutz comet in SOHO C2 imager on 4 August.Animation of Kreutz comet in STEREO COR2 imager on 4 August.

On 31 July a small Kreutz comet entered the field of view of the SOHO C3 imager, Kreutz comets are sungrazing comets thought to be the remnants of a large comet which broke up several centuries ago. The comet rapidly brightened, causing Karl Battrams to suggest this is the brightest Kreutz for 21 years.

The comet came to perihelion on August 4 at around 05 UT, at around 1 solar diameter from the Sun. The even was captured by the SOHO C3 and C2 instruments and the STEREO COR2 and COR1 instruments.In the animations above you can see the comet going behind the occultation disks hiding the sun in all these instruments...and not coming out.  The comet was vaporized by the intense heat of the sun.

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Comments:
Does a comet impact leave evidence on the sun's 'surface' that can be momentarily imaged?
 
Hard to say, as so far all comets have vaporised well before the Suns "surface" (a few that have come within a solar radius of the Sun have survived and flown on, but we have no known solar impactors). If you are thinking of the atmospheric scars left by the comet asteroid impacts on Jupiter. However, most Kreutz comets would be too small to have a visible effect on the much larger sun (and the atmospheric dynamics of the sun are quite different to cold Jupiter.) A sufficiently large comet might leave a cloud of metal vapour which could be detected by appropriate instrumentation (like in the UV), but as to how easy that would be to detect is unclear.
 
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