Saturday, January 2, 2010

Bright Sungrazing Comet

Australian amateur astronomer Alan Watson discovered on January 02, 2010 a bright sungrazing comet in the images taken on December 30 by STEREO-A spacecraft.

A sungrazing comet is a comet that passes extremely close to the Sun at perihelion. While small sungrazers can be completely evaporated during such a close approach to the Sun, larger sungrazers can survive many perihelion passages.

The comet is now visible in the images taken by LASCO C3 camera of SOHO spacecraft:

C3 Movie:


Spaceweather image with labels:

Latest real-time C3 images:

According to a message by Wentao Xu on comets-ml mailing list, the comet has reached magnitude 4 on January 02.36.

Magnitude right now (January 02 at 22UT) is perhaps 0 (maybe -1)

This is an animation done by M. Jaeger using 35 Soho images from Jan 2 at 14.42UT to Jan 2 at 21.18UT . Click on the image below to see it:

Bright Sungrazer comet - January 02, 2010


On January 03 the comet was visible in the Lasco C2 camera too: &

While here you can see the frames used by A. Watson to discover the comet in Stereo images. Look for the faint streak rising from lower left:
According to the latest Soho images the comet has not survived to this extremely close passage near the Sun.

By Ernesto Guido

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