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Topic: Comet Lovejoy

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory has shown us 10 Things about the Sun

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – In February 2020, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory — SDO — is celebrating its 10th year in space. Over the past decade the spacecraft has kept a constant eye on the Sun, studying how the Sun creates solar activity and drives space weather — the dynamic conditions in space that impact the entire solar system, including Earth.

Since its launch on February 11th, 2010, SDO has collected millions of scientific images of our nearest star, giving scientists new insights into its workings.

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory image of the sun. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/SDO/Joy Ng)

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory image of the sun. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/SDO/Joy Ng)

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NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory sees Thousands of Comets Disintegrate

 

Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – For an astronomer, discovering a comet can be the highlight of a lifetime. Great comets carry the names of their discoverers into history. Comet Halley, Comet Lovejoy, Comet Hale-Bopp are just a few examples….

Imagine the frustration, though, if every time you discovered a comet, it was rapidly destroyed.

Believe it or not, this is what happens almost every day to the most prolific comet hunter of all time.

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NASA reports Comet Lovejoy releasing Alcohol into Space

 

Written by Bill Steigerwald
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Comet Lovejoy lived up to its name by releasing large amounts of alcohol as well as a type of sugar into space, according to new observations by an international team. The discovery marks the first time ethyl alcohol, the same type in alcoholic beverages, has been observed in a comet.

The finding adds to the evidence that comets could have been a source of the complex organic molecules necessary for the emergence of life.

Picture of the comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) on 12 February 2015 from 50km south of Paris. (Fabrice Noel)

Picture of the comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) on 12 February 2015 from 50km south of Paris. (Fabrice Noel)

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NASA asks “What’s next for Comet ISON?”

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Comet ISON is now inside the orbit of Earth as it plunges headlong toward the sun for a fiery close encounter on November 28th.

The comet is putting on a good show for observatories around the solar system, especially after an outburst on November 13th-14th that boosted the comet’s brightness 10-fold. NASA spacecraft and amateur astronomers alike are snapping crisp pictures of the comet’s gossamer green atmosphere and suddenly riotous tail.

Comet ISON photographed on November 15th by amateur astronomer Mike Hankey of Auberry, California. The comet's bright head and riotous tail are consequences of an outburst on November 13th-14th that significantly boosted the comet's level of activity.

Comet ISON photographed on November 15th by amateur astronomer Mike Hankey of Auberry, California. The comet’s bright head and riotous tail are consequences of an outburst on November 13th-14th that significantly boosted the comet’s level of activity.

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NASA reports Amateur Astronomers now able to Observe Comet ISON

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Anticipation is building as Comet ISON approaches the sun for a close encounter on Thanksgiving Day (November 28th). No one knows if the blast of solar heating ISON receives will turn it into one of the finest comets in years–or destroy the icy visitor from the outer solar system.

Astronomer Carey Lisse, the head of NASA’s Comet ISON Observing Campaign, hopes that “every telescope on Earth will be trained on the comet in October and November.”  He may get his wish. As September comes to an end, amateur astronomers around the world are already monitoring the comet.

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Comet ISON on course for November show as it passes around the Sun

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – The Comet ISON will fly around the Sun in November 2013. This “Comet of the Century” could become as bright in the sky as the moon, or breakup in the Sun’s atmosphere.

Out near the orbit of Jupiter, a faint speck of light is moving through the black of space.  At first glance it doesn’t look like much, no brighter than a thousand distant stars speckling the velvet sky behind it; indeed, it takes a big telescope make out that it is a comet.

But what a comet it could turn out to be….

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Comet Corpses in the Solar Wind

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – A paper published in today’s issue of Science raises an intriguing new possibility for astronomers: unearthing comet corpses in the solar wind.  The new research is based on dramatic images of a comet disintegrating in the sun’s atmosphere last July.

Comet Lovejoy grabbed headlines in December 2011 when it plunged into the sun’s atmosphere and emerged again relatively intact. But it was not the first comet to graze the sun. Last summer a smaller comet took the same trip with sharply different results. Comet C/2011 N3 (SOHO) was completely destroyed on July 6th, 2011, when it swooped 100,000 km above the stellar surface.  NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) recorded the disintegration.

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Some Comets like it Hot

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Comets are icy and fragile. They spend most of their time orbiting through the dark outskirts of the solar system safe from destructive rays of intense sunlight.  The deepest cold is their natural habitat.

Last November amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy discovered a different kind of comet.  The icy fuzzball he spotted in the sky over his backyard observatory in Australia was heading almost directly for the sun.  On December 16th, less than three weeks after he found it, Comet Lovejoy would swoop through the sun’s atmosphere only 120,000 km above the stellar surface.

Astronomers soon realized a startling fact: Comet Lovejoy likes it hot.

Comet Lovejoy at sunrise on December 25th, 2011. Wayne England took the picture from Poocher Swamp, west of Bordertown, South Australia

Comet Lovejoy at sunrise on December 25th, 2011. Wayne England took the picture from Poocher Swamp, west of Bordertown, South Australia

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Comet Lovejoy Plunges into the Sun and Survives

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Friday morning, an armada of spacecraft witnessed something that many experts thought impossible. Comet Lovejoy flew through the hot atmosphere of the sun and emerged intact.

“It’s absolutely astounding,” says Karl Battams of the Naval Research Lab in Washington D.C. “I did not think the comet’s icy core was big enough to survive plunging through the several million degree solar corona for close to an hour, but Comet Lovejoy is still with us.”

The comet’s close encounter was recorded by at least five spacecraft: NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory and twin STEREO probes, Europe’s Proba2 microsatellite, and the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory.  The most dramatic footage so far comes from SDO, which saw the comet go in and then come back out again.

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