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Comet 322P appears near the Sun in NASA images

Comet 322P appears near the Sun in NASA images

Comet 322P/SOHO, shown orbiting the Sun in SOHO images, is six times closer to the star than Mercury.

Aug 28
– 11:10 p.m

(Updated 8/29/2023 12:00 PM)

On August 21 A.I comet The planet, called 322P, passed very close to the Sun, becoming six times closer to our star than Mercury. During the pass, the object was observed by the SOHO spacecraft NASA The same person who found him for the first time in 1999.

Photo: NASA/SOHO/Canaltech

Also known as P/1999 R1, P/2003 R5, P/2007 R5, and P/2011 R4, this comet completes one orbit around the Sun every four years, at a speed of up to 187 km/s. At perihelion (the orbital point at which it is closest to the Sun), its apparent brightness is comparable to that of dimmer stars visible to the naked eye.

However, we cannot observe it without the help of instruments like SOHO, precisely because it is so close to the Sun, in other words, the comet was so close to the star during the day that we couldn’t even look in its direction.

On the other hand, in the SOHO images below, we can see it orbiting the sun. The data is insufficient to monitor the entire trajectory, but it is possible to see the object moving toward the star and returning to the place it came from. from.


But why is it interesting? But its properties are quite unusual for a comet—for example, it doesn’t have TailNot even when receiving extreme temperatures from the sun. Ordinarily, a comet at this distance would evaporate its volatile elements and form the famous comet’s tail.

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It is also curious that 322P has already made this trip several times and has never disintegrated, unlike the other 4,500 comets that have already been observed to disintegrate when approaching the Sun. sun. Its high density is also noteworthy, as it is greater than the density of any other known comet, according to a 2016 study published in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Finally, it has a diameter of between 150 and 320 meters, rotates every 2.8 hours, and does not appear to have lost much mass during its perihelion. Astronomers suspect that this comet has already lost all of its volatile components, leaving only a core of rocks and minerals.

source: Astrophysical Journal Letters; via: spaceweather.com

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