Sungrazers, also known as "Kreutz sungrazers" after the astronomer who first studied them, are fragments of a massive comet that broke apart hundreds of years ago. These fascinating objects regularly streak in front of SOHO's field of view, but none of the smaller chunks, usually only measuring a few meters across, survive close approach (known as perihelion). A few larger Kreutz comets do have the fortitude to survive the sun's violent heating at perihelion, such as C/2011 W3 (Lovejoy), but the majority fizzle and vaporize fast as they plunge deep into the sun's atmosphere, the corona.
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This most recent sungrazer is one of the brightest examples to be spotted by SOHO, but just as it was discovered, astronomers knew its fate was sealed.
"That was the total destruction of a 600 km/s snowball, witnessed exclusively by SOHO," said Karl Battams of the Naval Research Lab in Washington DC. in a tweet. "My good friend and colleague Matthew Knight estimated the comet peaked at ~mag -0.5, putting it squarely in the top ten (five?) of SOHO's brightest Kreutz sungrazers."
Though it was one of the brightest, its fame was short-lived; it didn't stand a chance against the sun's intense heat. Its water vapor and dust are now scattered through the corona, blowing in the constant breeze of the solar wind.
Farewell brave unnamed sungrazer, we hardly knew ye.
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