New Comet Found, Vaporized
Like a modern-day Icarus, a newfound comet learned the hard way what happens when you fly too close to the sun.
Like a modern-day Icarus, this newfound comet learned the hard way what happens when you fly too close to the sun.
Amateur astronomer Alan Watson discovered the small comet while pouring over pictures taken in December 2009 by NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, or STEREO. (See pictures of the sun taken by spacecraft.)
The space agency's orbiting Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) then witnessed the bright, unnamed comet get vaporized on January 3. (Related picture: "Sun Probe Spies New Periodic Comet.")
SOHO was able to watch the comet plunging toward the sun thanks to its occulting disk, seen as an opaque circle at the center of the images. The disk creates an artificial solar eclipse, blocking out direct