Watch spectacular NASA footage of a comet striking the sun

Contributed by
Dec 14, 2012

Ever wondered what happens when a cosmic snowball strikes the sun at 300 miles per second? Well, your curiosity is about to be rewarded ...

Witness the awesome display captured by NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) that seems to be some errant alien missile targeting the sun. This class of suicidal comets, known as sungrazers, are the daredevils of the galaxy, plunging to a quick and fiery death in the sun's turbulent photosphere (that's the surface, for those who snoozed through science class).

Seems the reckless comet fragment blazing along at 1 million miles per hour was once part of a larger "mother-comet" that disintegrated millennia ago. Like moths to a 10,000-degree flame, sungrazers were first observed during a total solar eclipse in 1882, seen as brilliant bullets of light as the sun entered its totality phase. Orbiting solar observing satellites, with their special coronagraph optics, have cataloged more than 1,000 sungrazers since the '60s.

So score another one for our beloved yellow dwarf and watch these heavenly pyrotechnics ...

(via Huffington Post)

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