Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Discover A Comet While On The Internet With SOHO

Date:
April 19, 2002
Source:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Summary:
A new comet was discovered over the Internet by a Chinese amateur astronomer visiting the website for the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft. The comet "C/2002 G3 (SOHO)" was first reported on Friday, April 12, by XingMing Zhou of BoLe city, in the XinJiang province of China, who discovered the comet while watching SOHO real-time images of the Sun on the Internet. The comet is a new comet, not belonging to any known group.

A new comet was discovered over the Internet by a Chinese amateur astronomer visiting the website for the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft. The comet "C/2002 G3 (SOHO)" was first reported on Friday, April 12, by XingMing Zhou of BoLe city, in the XinJiang province of China, who discovered the comet while watching SOHO real-time images of the Sun on the Internet. The comet is a new comet, not belonging to any known group.

Related Articles


SOHO, launched over six years ago as a project of international cooperation between the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA, has discovered more than 420 comets in just under six years. This makes the spacecraft the most prolific comet finder in the history of astronomy. Most of the comets were first spotted by amateurs around the world who downloaded SOHO's real-time images to their home computers. Anyone with Internet access can take part in the hunt for new comets and be a comet discoverer.

"From September 2000 to now I have been trying to find SOHO comets, and I've discovered 13 comets, one of which, designated '2001U9' and initially cataloged by the SOHO project as 'SOHO-367,' was the brightest one in the last two years," said Zhou, who previously spent more than 1,600 hours since his 1985 graduation scanning the heavens with his 15cm F/5.3 reflector telescope to discover a single comet.

"What's exciting about these near-sun comets is that we are exploring a population of comets that has never been seen before because they are very small and faint," said Douglas Biesecker, a solar physicist with L3 Com Analytics Corporation, Vienna, Va. "By the time their orbits take them close to the Sun so they become bright, they are lost in the Sun's glare and require a space-based coronagraph like that on SOHO to be seen." Biesecker, who is affiliated with the SOHO program at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., confirms potential comet discoveries as they are posted to the SOHO website.

C/2002 G3 (SOHO) will be visible in SOHO's Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph (LASCO) C3 images until Saturday, April 20. The comet was first visible late in the day on Thursday, April 11. It entered the field of view at the bottom edge, almost directly under the Sun. It is moving upward to the left, and will eventually move back toward the right, exiting from the LASCO C3 field of view at the top edge, to the right of the Sun. First cataloged by the SOHO project as "SOHO-422," it has been officially designated C/2002 G3 (SOHO) by the International Astronomical Union.

The comet reached the point closest to the Sun in its orbit on April 17 at about 1:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, at a distance of about 7.6 million miles (12.3 million kilometers). As the week goes on, the comet will move through the field of view more quickly.

In all these images, the shaded disk is a mask in the instrument that blots out direct sunlight, making faint comets and the dim outer atmosphere of the Sun, or the corona, visible. The white circle added within the disk shows the size and position of the visible Sun.

Solar radiation heats the comet, which in turn causes the outgassing of its water molecules and dust. The dust scatters sunlight at visible wavelengths, making the comet bright in LASCO images. The water molecules break down into oxygen and hydrogen atoms, and the hydrogen atoms interact with the coronal plasma (electrified gas that comprises the extended atmosphere of the Sun).

All the SOHO images are freely available on the SOHO web site: http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/

More information about sun-grazing comets and how to spot new ones can be found at: http://sungrazer.nascom.nasa.gov/

Images and movies of the comet's passage are available at: http://soho.nascom.nasa.gov/hotshots/2002_04_15/


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "Discover A Comet While On The Internet With SOHO." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 April 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/04/020419065747.htm>.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2002, April 19). Discover A Comet While On The Internet With SOHO. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/04/020419065747.htm
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "Discover A Comet While On The Internet With SOHO." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/04/020419065747.htm (accessed November 24, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Crew Blasts Off for Int'l Space Station

Raw: Crew Blasts Off for Int'l Space Station

AP (Nov. 23, 2014) A Russian capsule carrying three astronauts from Russia, the United States and Italy has blasted off for the International Space Station. (Nov. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google Announces Improvements To Balloon-Borne Wi-Fi Project

Google Announces Improvements To Balloon-Borne Wi-Fi Project

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) In a blog post, Google said its balloons have traveled 3 million kilometers since the start of Project Loon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Crowdfunded Moon Mission Offers To Store Your Digital Memory

Crowdfunded Moon Mission Offers To Store Your Digital Memory

Newsy (Nov. 19, 2014) Lunar Mission One is offering to send your digital memory (or even your DNA) to the moon to be stored for a billion years. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Accidents Ignite Debate on US Commercial Space Travel

Accidents Ignite Debate on US Commercial Space Travel

AFP (Nov. 19, 2014) Serious accidents with two US commercial spacecraft within a week of each-other in October have re-ignited the debate over the place of private corporations in the exploration of space. Duration: 02:08 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins