Astronomer discovers rare comet flying past the Sun during total solar eclipse - GulfToday

Astronomer discovers rare comet flying past the Sun during total solar eclipse


Comet C/2020 X3 (SOHO) in the bottom left-hand corner. Credits: ESA/NASA/SOHO/Andreas Möller.

Thai amateur astronomer Worachate Boonplod who is working on the NASA funded project Sungrazer, spotted the comet amid the solar eclipse.


The comet was travelling at roughly 7,24,205 kms per hour, about 4.3 million kms from the Sun's surface.


Around  50 feet in diameter and about the length of a semi truck, the comet disintegrated to dust particles due to intense solar radiation, a few hours before reaching its closest point to the Sun.


Sungrazer is a citizen science project that invites anyone to search for and discover new comets in images from the joint European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO.


Boonplod discovered the comet a day before the eclipse.


"He knew the eclipse was coming, and was eager to see whether his new comet discovery might appear in the Sun's outer atmosphere as a small speck in eclipse photographs," the US space agency said in a statement late on Saturday.


The comet, named C/2020 X3 (SOHO) by the Minor Planet Center, is a "Kreutz" sungrazer.


This family of comets originated from a large parent comet that broke up into smaller fragments well over a thousand years ago and continues to orbit around the Sun today.


Kreutz sungrazing comets are most commonly found in SOHO images.


To date, 4,108 comets have been discovered in SOHO images, with this comet being the 3,524th Kreutz sungrazer spotted, according to NASA.

Related articles