Sunday, December 18, 2011

Comet Lovejoy Survives Fiery Plunge Through Sun, NASA Says

[ via Yahoo News ] 17 Dec

"Breaking News! Lovejoy lives! The comet Lovejoy has survived its journey around the sun to reemerge on the other side," SDO researchers tweeted, reports Yahoo News.


Comet Lovejoy emerged from behind the sun, as seen by the tail and head marked in this SOHO image on Dec. 16, 2011. Credit: NRL/SOHO/LASCO

A newfound comet defied long odds on Thursday (Dec. 15), surviving a suicidal dive through the sun's hellishly hot atmosphere, according to NASA scientists.

Comet Lovejoy plunged through the sun's corona at about 7 p.m. EST (midnight GMT on Dec. 16), coming within 87,000 miles (140,000 kilometers) of our star's surface. Temperatures in the corona can reach 2 million degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 million degrees Celsius), so most researchers expected the icy wanderer to be completely destroyed.

But Lovejoy proved to be made of tough stuff. A video taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) spacecraft showed the icy object emerging from behind the sun and zipping back off into space.

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