Sundiving Comet

A comet just discovered by amateur astronomer Sergey Shurpakov is diving past the sun today, and it will probably not survive.  Click here to view a movie of the death plunge recorded by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory

In July 1994 the Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 created a series of massive impacts on Jupiter’s surface, providing the first direct observation of an extraterrestrial collision of solar system objects. Could it happen to Earth?

The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) has become the single greatest comet finder of all time discovering its 200th comet as 2010 drew to a close. Drawing on help from amateur scientists around the world, the ESA/NASA  spacecraft quietly reached the milestone on 26 December, 15 years after it was launched.

“Since it launched on 2 December, 1995, to observe the Sun, SOHO has more than doubled the number of comets for which orbits have been determined over the last 300 years,” stated Joe Gurman, the US project scientist for SOHO at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

The project team acknowledged that while SOHO may take the credit, most of the hard work is done by the dozens of amateur astronomer volunteers who daily pore over the fuzzy lights dancing across the pictures produced by SOHO’s LASCO (Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph) cameras. According to the scientists, over 70 people from 18 different countries have helped spot comets over the last 15 years by searching through the publicly available SOHO images online.

It took SOHO 10 years to spot its first 1,000th comets, but only 5 more to find the next 1,000.  LASCO was not designed primarily to spot comets – its camera blocks out the brightest part of the Sun in order to better watch emissions in the Sun’s much fainter outer atmosphere, or corona. Its comet-finding skills are a natural side effect as with the Sun blocked, it is also much easier to see dimmer objects such as comets.

As Stephen Hawking says, the general consensus is that any comet or asteroid greater than 20 kilometers in diameter that strikes the Earth will result in the complete annihilation of complex life — animals and higher plants. (The asteroid Vesta, for example, one of the destinations of the Dawn Mission, is the size of Arizona). Read full article: dailygalaxy

Source and author: spaceweather * dailygalaxy

One response to “Sundiving Comet

  1. Interesting about Vesta. However being the size of Arizona, is a bit unsettling. Should something knock this asteroid out of its present orbit and makes it head towards earth, we all will have a dandy of a problem. At roughly 578 KM diameter which translates this to being 361 miles is damn large.

    If this baby ever heads towards Earth, definite EXTINCTION of at least 99% of all living things here.

    It would not surprise me that this asteroid will cause a hole easily 1,000 miles in diameter and perhaps at least 20 miles or more depth> down in the ground.

    Everybody within 5,000 miles will be killed. The shockwave, fireball effect and the massive windstorm created from the impact is more than enough to have a somber thought. The windstorm itself will go out to about 10,000 miles and it will be strong enough to wipe anything out in its path. More than 500 mph at that range. Earthquake effects will exceed 14.0!!!!

    When I think about the size of this one compared to the size that hit during the Dino era, it numbs the senses.

    Fortunately its an asteroid and not a comet. Sort of can breathe a bit easier.