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Sun Grazing Comets as Solar Probes

To observe how winds move high in Earth's atmosphere, scientists sometimes release clouds of barium as tracers to track how the material corkscrews and sweeps around — but scientists have no similar technique to study the turbulent atmosphere of the sun. So researchers were excited in December 2011, when Comet Lovejoy swept right through the sun's corona with its long tail streaming behind it. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured images of the comet, showing how its long tail was buffeted by systems around the sun, offering scientists a unique way of observing movement as if they'd orchestrated the experiment themselves. Since comet tails have ionized gases, they are also affected by the sun's magnetic field, and can act as tracers of the complex magnetic system higher up in the atmosphere. Comets can also aid in the study of coronal mass ejections and the solar wind.

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Other multimedia items related to this story:
     A Comet's Demise: July 6, 2011 (id 3929)
     Survivor 2011: Comet Lovejoy vs. The Sun (id 3932)
     SDO Sees Comet Lovejoy Survive Close Encounter With Sun (id 10886)
     Comet Encke tail stripped away by a CME (id 20126)
     Comet Encke dataset from STEREO (id 20128)
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Short narrated video.    Short narrated video.

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Duration: 3.6 minutes
Available formats:
  1280x720 (59.94 fps) QT         3 GB
  1280x720 (59.94 fps) QT         2 GB
  1280x720 (29.97 fps) QT         380 MB
  1280x720 (29.97 fps) QT         130 MB
  1280x720 (29.97 fps) WMV         116 MB
  1280x720 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   109 MB
  960x540 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   102 MB
  640x360 (29.97 fps) QT         100 MB
  1280x720 (30 fps) QT         81 MB
  640x360 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   41 MB
  320x240 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   22 MB
  1920x1080 TIFF         2 MB
  960x540 (29.97 fps) WEBM         50 MB
  1920x1080 JPEG         257 KB
  320x180     JPEG         31 KB
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Animation Number:11158
Animators:Scott Wiessinger (USRA)
 Walt Feimer (HTSI)
 Tom Bridgman (GST)
 Chris Smith (HTSI)
Video Editor:Scott Wiessinger (USRA)
Narrator:Scott Wiessinger (USRA)
Producer:Scott Wiessinger (USRA)
Scientist:William D. Pesnell (NASA/GSFC)
Writer:Scott Wiessinger (USRA)
Series:Narrated Movies
 SDO - Edited Features
Goddard TV Tape:G2012-123 -- Sun Grazers
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
SVS >> Comet
SVS >> Coronal Mass Ejection
SVS >> Solar Flare
SVS >> Solar Ultraviolet
SVS >> Solar Wind
SVS >> Sun
SVS >> Comet Encke
SVS >> Solar Dynamics Observatory
SVS >> Heliophysics
DLESE >> Narrated
SVS >> Corona
NASA Science >> Sun
NASA Science >> Planets and Moons

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Many of our multimedia items use the GCMD keywords. These keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation:
Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version logo - the U.S. Government's official Web portal. + Privacy Policy and Important Notices
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