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Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks passes through a solar flare in NASA video

Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks passes through a solar flare in NASA video

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NASA's STEREO-A observatory is monitoring comet 12P/Pons-Brooks as it reaches perihelion, the name given to the point closest to the sun in its orbit. Meanwhile, the probe captured the comet passing close to Jupiter at the moment of a coronal mass ejection, shooting plasma and magnetic fields from our star.

Observatory cameras recorded the event, and the images obtained were compiled into a video clip. If you look closely, you'll notice that there's a fold-like structure in the tail of comet 12P/Pons-Brooks (or just 12P, if you prefer).

It was created by a so-called breakaway event caused by solar wind particles. Events of this type can cause larger changes in the tail of comets, depending on their intensity, and may eventually disrupt this structure completely.

On Sunday (21), 12P will reach its closest approach to the Sun, staying about 116.8 million kilometers from the star. The distance is equivalent to less than half the distance between Earth and the star.

The object is also known as Devil's Comet due to the appearance of its coma, the gaseous envelope surrounding the nucleus. After some outbursts last year, the comet had an elongated, split shape, which to some resembled the structure of horns.

It is not yet known what causes the explosions, but one possibility is that 12P is one of the few known comets that contain active cryovolcanoes. Volcanoes of this type release a mixture of hydrocarbons and gases, which escape when heat from sunlight creates a crack in the comet's nucleus.

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source: Space climate

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