On Tuesday, December 8, 2015, the sun swallowed an icy comet.
The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spotted the visitor from outer space plunging into our star.
The comet – “rubble pile” of rock and gravel – has now completely vaporized. Any remains are invisible from Earth.
This comet belonged to the Kreutz family, which formed from the explosion of a single giant comet many centuries ago.
Several Kreutz fragments disintegrate every day in the sun. However most only measure a few meters across and are too small to be seen. But, on rare occasions, a 10 m to 50 m fragment like this one attracts attention:
Because of their common parentage, sungrazers often come in clusters. So, it wouldn’t be surprising to observe another comet being swallowed by the sun.