A new comet was discovered yesterday…
And it’s already history.
The first comet discovery of the decade goes to… SOHO!” But in the early hours of Jan. 13th, the tiny comet plunged into the sun, where it rapidly evaporated:
SOHO is the most prolific comet hunter in history
It’s actually quite unusual that it has taken 13 days for SOHO to find a comet. This is the furthest we’ve gone into a new calendar year without a discovery since 2008. Up to now, it has discovered up to 3,900 comets and we should comfortably pass 4,000 this year!
But when SOHO discovers a comet, it always has help. A human watching coronagraph images is required to spot the sungrazer. In this case the comet was noticed by Worachate Boonplod (Thailand) – one of the most successful amateur comet hunters.
Kreutz Family Comet
The doomed comet, R.I.P., was a member of the Kreutz family, which are fragments from the breakup of a single giant comet many centuries ago.
Hundreds of Kreutz fragments pass by the sun and disintegrate every year. In fact, the second comet of the new decade will probably be a Kreutz sungrazer, too.