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Waspie_Dwarf

Sungrazing Comets

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Why Are We Seeing So Many Sungrazing Comets?

Before 1979, there were less than a dozen known sungrazing comets. As of December 2012, we know of 2,500. Why did this number increase? With solar observatories like SOHO, STEREO, and SDO, we have not only better means of viewing the sun, but also the comets that approach it. SOHO allows us to see smaller, fainter comets closer to the sun than we have ever been able to see before. Even though many of these comets do not survive their journey past the sun, they survive long enough to be observed, and be added to our record of sungrazing comets.

Credit: NASA

Source: NASA - Multimedia

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Sun Grazing Comets as Solar Probes

Astronomers were excited in December 2011, when Comet Lovejoy swept right through the sun's corona with its long tail streaming behind it. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured images of the comet, showing how its long tail was buffeted by systems around the sun, offering scientists a unique way of observing movement as if they'd orchestrated the experiment themselves. Since comet tails have ionized gases, they are also affected by the sun's magnetic field, and can act as tracers of the complex magnetic system higher up in the solar atmosphere.

Credit: NASA

Source: NASA - Multimedia

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Thank you, very interesting. As always.

May I ask, what causes the radically different orbit of a comet with relation to planetary orbits? Why do they not follow the same general plane as planets do?

comet.orbit.jpg

planet_orbits2.jpeg

Even with Pluto's orbit, the planetary model seems quite stable, why is this not the cases with comets? How do they buck the ecliptic plane?

Taking a guess, going by Pluto, would that be controlled by mass?

Edited by psyche101

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I am probably wrong in this (do not be timid in correcting me :no: )

I always believed that Comets originated in the Kuiper Belt and that it was chance collisions with other asteroids (not comets at that time) that sent them off on a vector determined by the vector of the momentum mass with which they collided. This could result in some spectacularly, non - planetary plane, eliptical orbits.

Comets have very small mass compared to the sun, and it will depend on their velocity whether or not not they will be sucked up by the sun, or continue out beyond its well (Gravitational).

If I had the time, and inclination, I would be interested in finding out what the Vector Momenum required would be to send a comet directly into the Earth's gravity well from the Kuiper belt. The Tunguska Explosion is popularly characterised as a cometary Nucleus exploding in the atmosphere.

Edited due to rubbish spelling

Edited by keithisco

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