The Slow Demise of a Periodic Near-Sun Comet

With each visit to the sun, a comet is being torn to pieces. It’s called Comet 323P/SOHO, and it is drawn to what will cause its demise. Here’s more from Phys.org:

Comets with the SOHO designation were discovered with the SOHO spacecraft. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) is a joint ESA/NASA mission launched in 1995. Its mission is to study the sun, and though the mission was scheduled to last two years, it’s been operating for over 26 years.

As a by-product of its solar observations, the spacecraft has discovered 4,000 comets. Most of these comets are sungrazers, a class of comets very close to the sun. Astronomers think most sungrazers are chunks of a much larger comet that broke apart. 323P isn’t a sungrazer; it’s a near-sun comet. Small comets can completely evaporate in one close approach to the sun, while larger ones can survive many. For most of them, their small perihelions spell their eventual doom.

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