(ORDO NEWS) — While Chile and Argentina observed a total solar eclipse on December 14, 2020, a comet unknown to most amateur astronomers passed across the sky as a tiny speck next to the Sun.
The comet was first seen in satellite data by Thai amateur astronomer Worachat Boonplod, working for the NASA-funded Sungrazer Project, an amateur project that invites everyone to participate in the search and discovery of new comets in images. made with instruments from the European Space Agency and NASA’s solar observatory called the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO.
Boonplod discovered this comet on December 13, one day before the eclipse. He knew about the approaching eclipse and wanted to see if this comet would be distinguishable as a small speck inside the outer atmosphere of the Sun in the pictures taken during the eclipse.
This comet, designated C / 2020 X3 (SOHO), has been classified as a near-solar Kreutz comet. This family of comets was formed from one large parent body, which disintegrated into small fragments over a thousand years ago, and now these fragments still continue to revolve around our star.
At the time these images were taken, the comet was moving at about 720,000 kilometers per hour, about 4.3 million kilometers from the sun’s surface. The comet is about 25 meters in diameter, and after a while, under the influence of solar radiation, it will disintegrate into small particles, similar to dust – just a few hours after passing the point of closest approach to the Sun.
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