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NASA | SDO Sees Comet Lovejoy Survive Close Encounter with Sun

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Published on Dec 16, 2011

One instrument watching for the comet was the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which adjusted its cameras in order to watch the trajectory. Not only does this help with comet research, but it also helps orient instruments on SDO -- since the scientists know where the comet is based on other spacecraft, they can finely determine the position of SDO's mirrors. This first clip from SDO from the evening of Dec 15, 2011 shows Comet Lovejoy moving in toward the sun.
Comet Lovejoy survived its encounter with the sun. The second clip shows the comet exiting from behind the right side of the sun, after an hour of travel through its closest approach to the sun. By tracking how the comet interacts with the sun's atmosphere, the corona, and how material from the tail moves along the sun's magnetic field lines, solar scientists hope to learn more about the corona. This movie was filmed by the Solar Dynamics Observatory in 171 Angstrom wavelength, which is typically shown in yellow.

Credit: NASA/SDO

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