Some other SE questions about launching ICBM's into the sun got me wondering whether we have ever observed an object on a path that intersected with the Sun? How close did it get?


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and here's a video of "a Giant Comet Hitting the Sun":


The impact occurred sometime during May 10-11, 2011. The comet was not named but believed to be a member of the Kreutz family of comets

Many close calls

Before this spectacular plunge we had witnessed several other comets graze (come close without hitting) the Sun.

I've included a nice picture of comet Lovejoy after its close approach of the Sun brought it through the Sun's corona around December 15, 2011:

Comet Lovejoy grazing the Sun

What happens when a comet hits the sun?

It acts like a supersonic snowball in Hell

If a comet is big enough and passes close enough, the steep fall into the sun’s gravity would accelerate it to more than 600 kilometres per second. At that speed, drag from the sun’s lower atmosphere would flatten the comet into a pancake right before it exploded in an airburst, releasing ultraviolet radiation and X-rays that we could see with modern instruments.

The crash would unleash as much energy as a magnetic flare or coronal mass ejection, but over a much smaller area. “It’s like a bomb being released in the sun’s atmosphere,” Brown says. The momentum propelled by the comet could even make the sun ring like a bell with subsequent sun-quakes echoing through the solar atmosphere.


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