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Stunning video: NASA captures giant comet hitting sun

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Published on May 18, 2011

SOHO (NASA-ESA Solar & Heliospheric Observatory) watched as a fairly bright comet dove towards the Sun in a white streak and was not seen again after its close encounter (May 10-11, 2011). The comet, probably part of the Kreutz family of comets, was discovered by amateur astronomer Sergey Shurpakov. In this coronagraph the Sun (represented by a white circle) is blocked by the red occulting disk so that the faint structures in the Sun's corona can be discerned. Interestingly, a coronal mass ejection blasted out to the right just as the comet is approaching the Sun. Scientists, however, have yet to find a convincing physical connection between sun-grazing comets and coronal mass ejections. In fact, analysis of this CME using images from the Solar Dynamics Observatory shows that the CME erupted before the comet came close enough to the solar surface to interact with strong magnetic fields.

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