[meteorite-list] Bright Comet Is Really NEAT

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 10:18:28 2004
Message-ID: <200302191713.JAA25755_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>

ESA Science News

19 Feb 2003

Bright comet is really NEAT

Comet C/2002 V1 (NEAT) is putting on a fine show for
ESA/NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) space
probe. As the comet swings closer to the Sun, it has gotten
brighter. Now it is the brightest comet ever observed by
SOHO's LASCO instrument.

The show became even more spectacular in the early hours of
18 February 2003, when the Sun unleashed a storm of charged
particles, known as a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME). It
looked as if this ejection was heading for the comet.
Astronomers are trying to find out if there was a head-on
collision. The comet will remain in the LASCO field of view
until Thursday 20 February 2003.

First recognised in the 1970s, CMEs play an important role
in space weather. They occur when the magnetic field of
the Sun whiplashes, sending a cloud of super-hot gaseous
debris flying off into space. When a CME occurs very fast
and powerfully and stretches out in the direction of our
planet, it can cause a chain of effects. What can happen?
The effects can affect satellites in orbit, burn out power
station transformers on Earth, and endanger orbiting
astronauts. Studying CMEs and their effects is an
important goal for modern science.


* More about SOHO
* SOHO hotshots
* More about Comet C/2002 V1 (NEAT)

Related news

* Surf the Web to see the Sun-dancing comet
* SOHO discovers 500th new comet
* In SOHO's pictures, watch a comet passing near the Sun
* SOHO's private view of a sunbathing comet
* SOHO's unique view of a comet that fell to pieces
* SOHO analyses a kamikaze comet

Related links

* ESA Science homepage
* Comet C/2002 V1 NEAT
* ESA's SOHO science website
* SOHO Science Web Site
* How to discover comets with SOHO
* The very latest SOHO images
* LASCO homepage


[Image 1:
Comet C2002/V1 (NEAT) is very close to the Sun.

[Image 2:
SOHO is well placed to monitor the Sun's coronal mass
ejections. SOHO is stationed 1.5 million kilometres away
from the Earth, directly in line of the Sun. There, it
constantly watches the Sun for activity, returning
spectacular pictures and data of the storms that rage
across its surface. SOHO was launched in 1995 by a NASA
Atlas-IIAS/Centaur rocket and was designed to work for
three years. It is still working today.

[Image 3:
This illustration shows a CME blasting off the Sun's
surface in the direction of Earth. This left portion is
composed of an EIT 304 image superimposed on a LASCO C2
coronagraph. Two to four days later, the CME cloud is
shown striking and beginning to be mostly deflected
around the Earth's magnetosphere. The blue paths
emanating from the Earth's poles represent some of its
magnetic field lines. The magnetic cloud of plasma can
extend to 30 million miles wide by the time it reaches
earth. These storms, which occur frequently, can disrupt
communications and navigational equipment, damage
satellites, and even cause blackouts. (Objects in the
illustration are not drawn to scale.)
Received on Wed 19 Feb 2003 12:13:32 PM PST

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