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NASA, ESA capture comet collision with Sun


Kevan Karanjia
Staff Writer

Friday, August 23, 2013, 10:31 AM - NASA and the European Space Agency's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) has managed to capture a comet colliding with the sun, appearing to explode as it approaches.

NASA and the ESA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) has provided several stunning images since its launch back in 1995. 

From day 1, operation SOHO has discovered over 2,400 comets. Only last week it captured a massive coronal hole near the sun's north pole

This week new video was released showing a comet on a collision course with the sun. 

The piece of space debris is thought to have originated from the Kreutz family of comets - known by some as the sungrazers because their orbit tracks close to the sun.

The comet appears to explode upon impact but most likely only made it to within touching distance. 

Tens of metres in diametre, the comet simply vapourized as it tracked closer to the sun. 

At approximately the same time, the sun let out a large coronal mass ejection (CME), looking as if the comet triggered the event.

In fact, the CME was caused by an explosion on the other side of the star. The icy space body was simply too small to have any impact.

Kreutz fragments approach the sun on a daily basis but many are too minuscule to be captured on camera. 

ISON the real deal

Astronomers are more excited by another stargrazer that's approaching the sun, comet ISON.

It is expected to put on a dazzling display as it materializes in the sky. 

ISON's size means that it could even be visible during daytime. As it tracks closer to the sun, solar rays will heat the comet and produce a bright display when seen from Earth. 

Hailed as the "comet of the century," scientists are salivating in anticipation of its November display, though some believe it's already showing signs of fizzling out.  

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