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Comet dives into the Sun to be reduced to atoms – and SOHO filmed everything

On May 10, a comet of some tens of meters was about to orbit the Sun, when it was sucked and swallowed by the star. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) satellite recorded the event that reduced comet Kreutz sungrazer to particles.

Every day, small fragments of comets of this type of comet enter the Sun, but it is much rarer when it happens with objects of larger proportions. Kreutz sungrazer comets are a category of comets that in the past were part of a larger object, probably a large comet, and parted about and at least a thousand years ago.

They are also characterized by making low-flying flights in the Sun’s orbit, that is, they pass very close to the star when they are about to complete a turn. Therefore, some end up captured by solar gravity. The name they receive is in honor of the German astronomer Heinrich Kreutz, who was the first to demonstrate that they were related to each other.

The dusty remains of this comet have disintegrated into individual atoms, and will now be blown back into the Solar System by the stellar wind from our Sun. Finding this comet was not a very difficult job for SOHO, as the probe has already detected more than 4 1,000 of these objects in its 25 years of activity, most of them part of the Kreutz family. SOHO also filmed collisions of larger comets, like this event in 2019, when another Kreutz plunged straight into the solar atmosphere.

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