October 5, 2011
Sungrazing Comet – Wrong Place, Wrong Time
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NASA's Solar And HelioSpheric Observatory (SOHO) recently witnessed a sungrazing comet being eaten up by a coronal mass ejection (CME).
The comet that disintegrated on October 2, 2011 was a sungrazing comet of the type known as a Kreutz Sungrazer, according to NASA.
The Kreutz Sungrazers are a family of comets known for taking orbits extremely close to the Sun. This family is believed to be fragments of one large comet that broke up several centuries ago.
Karl Battams, who runs the Sungrazer Comet Project, said there is no evidence that the sungrazing comet and CME are more than just a coincidence.
"I have personally seen over 1,600 sungrazing comets; I would honestly LOVE for there to be a link between them and coronal mass ejections," Battams said in an analysis of the event entitled "Big comet, big CME“¦ big coincidence?".
She said when the Sun is active, we can see up to 10 or 12 CMEs per day, which is equivalent to about one every two hours.
SOHO was launched in 1995 and has helped discover over 2100 comets. It was a project built by NASA and the European Space Agency.
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