Sun  Planets and Moons 

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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For More Information

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sdo/news/sungrazing-comets.html


Credits

Scott Wiessinger (USRA): Animator
Walt Feimer (HTSI): Animator
Tom Bridgman (GST): Animator
Chris Smith (HTSI): Animator
Scott Wiessinger (USRA): Video Editor
Scott Wiessinger (USRA): Narrator
Scott Wiessinger (USRA): Producer
William D. Pesnell (NASA/GSFC): Scientist
Scott Wiessinger (USRA): Writer
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Short URL to share this page:
http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?11158

Mission:
SDO

This item is part of these series:
Narrated Movies
SDO - Edited Features

Goddard TV Tape:
G2012-123 -- Sun Grazers

Keywords:
SVS >> CME
SVS >> Comet
SVS >> Coronal Mass Ejection
SVS >> HDTV
SVS >> Solar Flare
SVS >> Solar Ultraviolet
SVS >> Solar Wind
SVS >> Sun
SVS >> SDO
SVS >> Comet Encke
SVS >> Solar Dynamics Observatory
SVS >> Heliophysics
DLESE >> Narrated
SVS >> Corona
NASA Science >> Sun
NASA Science >> Planets and Moons