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back to article Comet Lovejoy survives brush with fiery solar death

Suicidal comet Lovejoy has survived its brush with death in the furnace of the Sun, emerging from behind the star in one (smaller) piece. Most space boffins thought that the comet, composed of ice and rocks, couldn't survive its trajectory so close to the heat of the Sun - and expected Lovejoy to disintegrate. But instead, …

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Joke

..just a Cobra MkIII refueling.

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Pirate

Damn.

Now I have to go dust off my Mamba and go looking for Thargoids...

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Safer doing that procedure with gas giant planets (relatively speaking...)

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Mamba? Gas giant? Oh dear, you're on about Frontier not the original Elite :-(. Actually Thargoids, seems one of you at least means First Encounters. I took that one back as unplayably buggy.

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Frontier, thank you. Never did get around to laying my hands on the original. And yes, Thargoids did occasionally manage to snatch you out of hyper in Frontier - even if you won the fight, you were hoplessly lost in space, and effectively dead.

Leastways, I'm not playing Oolite.

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E1337

Brofist dude

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Anonymous Coward

One word...

Rama

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Thumb Up

Another word...

... Sundive!

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Some more words...

I survived the Sun!

"Zen, standard by 6."

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Coat

Are we sure it wasn't Rama?

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Anonymous Coward

OR

Another reason it might have survived is that the alien pod at it's heart has forcefields. Surely, soon the alien pod at the heart of the comet will come in to a soft landing on Earth...

I for one welcome etc,etc.

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Joke

Luky?

http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/joke_32.png The comet was lucky it went past the sun at night.

If it had gone through in the day time it wouldn't have stood a chance.

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I wonder if it bought any extinct animals back with it when it reappeared via a slingshot manouver?

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Go

May fortune favour the foolish

Warp speed Mr Sulu

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"Lovejoy is still with us"

and still as small.

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actually, he survived his brush with old ladies and antiques to become a filth-mouthed cowboy

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Mushroom

Oh God...

If the scientists can't get this right, what chance do we have when they say "the large meteorite will pass close by, but won't impact the Earth".

DOOMED I TELLS YA! DOOOOOOOOMED!

Happy 2012 everyone!

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Coat

"DOOMED I TELLS YA! DOOOOOOOOMED!"

That'll do, Frasier.

Mine's the one with the Dad's Army film in the pocket.

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FAIL

Oh come on....

.....Dad's Army.....Frasier? ITYM Fraser, Private.

Or did he not tell you his name?

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Alien

Three words

It is triple. Rama came in threes ( A. C. Clark ).

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Pint

"...the several million degree solar corona..."

The corona is essentially a hard vacuum. If it wasn't a hard vacuum, then the 'atmospheric' drag would have stopped the comet dead in its tracks. The point is that the "several million degree solar corona" is a bit of a red herring. The big bloddy hot 6000° star filling the comet's field of view is real enough. But the "million degree" corona ^h^h^h^h^h^h hard vacuum is mostly foolish nonsense.

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Hard vacuum ?

You bet it is -it'll rip you a new one, matey

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Happy

A perfect example of the Leidenfrost effect.

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Lovejoy

Last seen in Hot Rod

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AIEE!

More AIEE!

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What's the surprise?

We know that some other objects with highly elliptical orbits are dirty snowballs, but no-one's actually tested this one. The available evidence prior to this observation is simply that it is on a highly elliptical orbit that takes it very close to the sun. *Unless* we have some reason to believe that this is its first ever circuit, that means we know it has survived such close approaches before.

Therefore, what is the surprise?

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Re: What's the surprise?

The assumption up until now was that a comet of its size, having been repeatedly passed by the sun in the past and becoming smaller in the process every time, would not survive such a close encounter with the sun.

Now in a few thousand years when it comes back again, then we'll be able to get a really good understanding of just how these things work, because we can observe the same comet having another go at the sun.

Or we could develop decent spacecraft by then and go look it up with a probe while it's still far far away.

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Boffin

the surprise

Because it's a "dirty snowball" that's constantly shrinking due to it's tail. If it's got a tail, it's losing mass and stability, and the prevailing opinion was that this one had shrunk so small as to not survive going so close to the sun *this* time. No assumptions were made on it being a first time pass (a hyperbolic comet - very rare) and how well it survived any previous times has little to do with how well it survives this or the next time.

There's only three fates for comets - extinction (nothing left in them, but stable enough that they're just a lump of rock - effectively an asteroid), break-up/disintegration (what was expected here) or hitting something else like a planet, like the one that we got a cracking view of hitting Jupiter back in the 90s.

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Black Helicopters

@Ken

Well, I'm venting assumptions myself here as well, but my bet would go to "We couldn't possibly have been wrong?!".

And my conspiracy theory explanation for that is "money". Isn't it slightly surprising to see how all of a sudden many "deep space victory stories" get released in a very small time frame ?

Where a lot of those stories come from NASA; an agency "sponsored" by the government? Well, I wonder when their government decides on the next annual budget...

With that in mind I don't think it should come as a surprise to see people being or acting surprised with these results. It sells a lot better (with their bosses that is) than "so we made a mistake in our hundred thousand dollar investigation, we'll do better next time!".

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Hmmm. So our first look at this comet happens to be its last.

I suppose (over the set of all comets) that this is bound to be the case *eventually*, but I would still say it was a rash assumption for any given comet, regardless of what they are made of. Perhaps the astronomers need to talk to the geologists about Deep Time.

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Wow

I didn't know Ian McShane was that feisty.

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This is deadwood era Lovejoy.

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Aliens luv XXXtreme 2

That was no dirty snowball. That was no snowy dirtball. That was Aliens.

Sun surfing. Yeeeeeeeeeee hawwwwwwwwwwww

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Coat

Several Million Degrees?

Depending on which temperature scale they were using, Fahrenheit or Centigrade, several million degrees might only be a few hundred thousand degrees. A nice big dirty snowball, or snowy dirtball, might easily weather the lower of the two.

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So the core is activated now ?

And soon we will see the heat bloom of the subterranean energy source that will revive the alien life-form contained within before re-orienting the comet's course to collide with Earth so as to start the second phase of the infestation.

Now we know why the Mayans didn't bother counting beyond 2012.

It's all true !! Run for the . . . oh wait, that'll be useless anyways.

Oh well, better stock up on champagne then, in order to get ripped to shreds in style.

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Coat

Are we sure it is a comet? Given the speed and trajectory of that object sling shotting around the sun . . . someone check if there were any UFO sighting around San Francisco around 1986.

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Coat

Comet Watch

Watched comets never boil ...

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500m diameter?

And the rest. More like earth-mooned size. Not that I'm an expert..

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Alien

It was Ace Garp

Taking the night-light flight.

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Boffin

Metaphasic Sheilding

Obviously it was watching that episode of TNG where Dr Crusher ended up in command got the shields modified so the Enterprise could dive into a star's atmosphere to evade an enemy borg ship (memory jogged by http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Metaphasic_shield ).

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