A comet with a diameter of 6 kilometers is heading towards the Sun
(ORDO NEWS) — “96P is a very unusual comet, both in composition and behavior, so we don’t know exactly what might happen.
Accordingly, we are launching a special observing program with SOHO, so we are limiting the transmission of public coronagraph data to a few days (no more than six images per hour will be uploaded to the public).
Comet 96P/Machholz is heading towards the Sun for a close approach inside the orbit of Mercury. This is no ordinary comet flyby. Most comets that hit the Sun are small (about 10 meters) and evaporate quickly.
Comet 96P is different. At 6 kilometers across, it is large enough to survive in close proximity to the Sun. Perihelion (the closest approach to the Sun) on January 31 is only 0.12 AU.
Some researchers believe that 96P may be an alien. It is chemically different from other comets in the solar system, as it lacks the usual amounts of carbon and cyanogen.
It also has an oddly inclined orbit that keeps it very close to the Sun. Strange fragments have recently appeared ahead of the comet; researchers are not sure how they were produced.
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