On Thursday, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) space telescope recorded a spectacular video of a comet diving directly into the Sun.
In the video, an observer can see a number of celestial bodies, including bright Venus situated very close to the Sun, (the image of which is blocked with an opaque disc to increase visibility), a less bright Mars orbiting farther away, and the ‘Kreutz sungrazer’ comet diving almost directly into the center of the Sun.
This is not the first comet encounter that SOHO detected this summer. On June 20, the observatory captured two comets – a Kreutz sungrazer and a ‘Meyer sunskirter’ – approaching the sun.
Kreutz sungrazers are a family of comets that come very close to the Sun – sometimes just thousands of kilometers from its surface, and named after astronomer Heinrich Kreutz who proved that these comets are in fact shards of one larger comet. Sunskirters are comets that do not come as close to the Sun as sungrazers.
Earlier in 2016, SOHO documented a similar collision, as another Kreutz sungrazer slammed into our star at approximately 373 miles per second.