Comet Lovejoy survives pass through sun’s corona

Dec 16, 2011
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Comet Lovejoy survives pass through sun’s corona

A newly discovered comet dubbed Lovejoy has survived an unbelievably close pass by the sun. The comet actually survived a pass through the sun's corona on December 15. The comet came within 87,000 miles of the surface of the sun. The temperatures in the corna can reach 2 million degrees Fahrenheit according to Space.com.

Lovejoy was not expected to survive the brush with the sun and was being observed by scientists and was expected to be completely destroyed. The NASA solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft followed Lovejoy on its path through the corona, expecting to see the comet's demise, and surprisingly saw Lovejoy streak back out into space. Scientists were so convinced that the comet was going to be vaporized that some were shocked and elated when the comet survived.

Lovejoy has a core that is about 660 feet wide and is in a class of comet dubbed Kreutz sungrazers because of the orbit that brings it very close to the sun. The comet was discovered by an Australian amateur astronomer named Terry Lovejoy, which is where the comet name comes from. Comet Lovejoy was discovered on November 27.

[via Space.com]


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