Arcing toward a fiery fate,
this Sungrazer comet was recorded by the SOHO spacecraft's
Spectrometric COronagraph(LASCO) on December 23, 1996.
uses an occulting disk, partially visible at the lower right,
to block out the otherwise overwhelming solar disk allowing it to
image the inner 8 million kilometers of the relatively faint
The comet is seen as its
coma enters the bright equatorial
solar wind region
Positioned in space to
observe the Sun, SOHO has now been used to
discover over 1,500 comets, including
Based on their orbits, the vast majority of sungrazers are
believed to belong to the Kreutz
sungrazing comets created by successive
break ups from a single large parent comet
that passed very near the Sun in the twelfth century.
Comet of 1965, Ikeya-Seki, was also a member of the
Kreutz family, coming within about 650,000 kilometers of the
Passing so close to the Sun,
are subjected to destructive
along with intense solar heat.
This small comet, known as the Christmas Comet
did not survive.
Later this year,
sungrazer in recorded history but not a Kreutz sungrazer,
is expected to survive.