A comet near the Sun has just been roasted to death. Some amazing details have emerged courtesy the Hubble Space Telescope.
Astronomers observe comets to study their properties and trajectories to find out what they are made up of and also if they pose any threat to the Earth. However, this time, astronomers actually saw something shocking! A comet approaching the Sun was killed by it virtually right in front of astronomers’ eyes, so to speak. These observations were truly unprecedented. This incident will also help astronomers to understand why comets orbiting close to the sun seem to disappear.
The disintegrated comet near the sun is known as 323P/SOHO which was first discovered in 1999 by the NASA’s European Space Agency probe Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), that constantly observes the Sun. The 323P/SOHO is known to be one of those rare near-sun comets, which pursue an elliptical orbit around the Sun. Scientists believe that there are many such comets that exist, but only a couple of them have been observed yet. And this recent observation of the comet roasted to death near the Sun can explain why, University of Hawai’i News report says. Also read: NASA: Hubble Telescope reveals unknown facts about this LARGEST Comet!
How astronomers observed Comet breaking near the Sun
The Subaru Telescope has been tracking the comet since December 2020, even though it was only a small dot moving across space. This time, it seems it got too close to the Sun. After its close pass, the Hubble Space Telescope picked it up, but it looked very different. The results showed a long tail of ejected dust streaming from the comet. This visible change in the comet indicated its disintegration because of the extreme heat coming from the Sun. The comet also was found to be changing its colour as well as spinning rapidly, completing one rotation in just half an hour. Also read: Hubble Telescope captures giant star 32x larger than Sun, but it will die first! Check breathtaking NASA photo
“The intense radiation from the Sun caused parts of the comet to break off due to thermal fracturing, similar to how ice cubes crack when you pour a hot drink over them. This mass loss mechanism could help explain what happens to the near-Sun population and why there are so few of them left,” the research team said in a statement.