ESA and NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO, saw a bright comet plunge toward the Sun on 3-4 August 2016, at nearly 1.3 million miles per hour. The comet, first spotted by SOHO on 1 August, is part of the Kreutz family of comets, a group with related orbits that broke off of a huge comet several centuries ago.
Scientists at Aberystwyth University have developed an automated method for three-dimensional tracking of massive eruptions from the Sun, called Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs). The Automated CME Triangulation (ACT) system uses data from three space-based observatories that orbit the Sun at different locations, allowing scientists to view the Sun and CMEs from different angles.
On 13 September 2015, the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) discovered its 3,000th comet, cementing its standing as the greatest comet finder of all time. The comet was spotted in SOHO’s data by Worachate Boonplod of Thailand — a citizen scientist typical of the NASA-funded Sungrazer Project volunteers responsible for 95 percent of SOHO comet discoveries.
Our Sun is a volatile star, producing giant clouds of solar particles called coronal mass ejections. Now scientists may finally have a tool to predict the magnetic configuration of a CME from afar, enabling forecasters to give utility grid and satellite operators a day’s advance warning to protect their systems.