back to article Solar storm rips tail from comet

STEREO, NASA's satellite sent up to the heavens to examine the surface of the Sun, has captured the first ever images of a collision between a comet and a solar "hurricane". The force of the solar storm, a coronal mass ejection (CME), was so great that it tore the plasma tail from the comet. The tail comes off a comet. Credit: …


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  1. Ash


    (I am not an astrophysicist), but that doesn't look particularly detached to me. It just looks like the tail is following the direction of the solar storm, much like a flag turning in the wind.

    Guess i'm just not astrophysicist material.

  2. Dan


    I guess that's 15-Love to the Sun then :)

  3. Robert Hill

    And if...

    And if a manned mission to Mars, or anywhere for that matter, gets hit by a CME? Ouch. Toasties for astronauts.

    We are such small, pityful creatures to go off exploring the universe...

    A.C. Clarke had it right in 2001...we will explore space when we can shed these bodies of fragile flesh for metal constructs that are in themselves ships. Until we can do that, all we can do is potter about in the backyard swimming pool of the inner solar system, never reaching the sea of the larger universe. The key to space isn't ever-faster space drives - it is making ourselves into constructs far more suited that we are.

    N.B. - Clarke wasn't the only prophet of that view, but he is the one that I would expect most to know...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But have they checked the course...?

    OK, so billions of tonnes of solar matter have interacted with the tail - but have they also interacted with the comet itself? Rather than contemplating the wonders of a missing tail, should those clever boffins at NASA be checking out the course of the comet? Are we looking at another first - witnessing an unplanned change in a comet's course - might we even be facing a real "Deep Impact" for the future?

    Head for the hills folks! (and don't forget the freeze dried rations.....)

  5. Alan Jenney

    CMEs and comets

    The question of what effect the CME might have on course of a comet when the tail can be distorted so much can be brought into analogy with blowing on a candle: you can knock the flame about with a breath, but blowing the candle around itself is a completely different order of magnitude!

  6. Bill Alsbury

    re: CMEs and comets

    But of course could happen, candle in hurricane springs to mind?

  7. Luther Blissett

    Any excuse to plug magnetic reconnection

    Why the marketing hype for the fairytale "magnetic reconnection" concept - astronomers' anthropogenic global warming? Can't they see it was the cosmic dragon wot done it?

  8. foxyshadis

    No sense second-guessing them

    "The team of scientists working on the STEREO mission have combined the images to make a movie. They've also written up the discovery for the 10 October issue of the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters."

    No, that's obviously CG, c'mon now.

    I wouldn't doubt the boffins were able to track the rock separate from the tail, after all, that's what they _do_ for a living, track rocks. Too bad their pics weren't highlighted better to point out the rock as well as the tail.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Exhaust Gasses in a strong wind?

    Is it just me or did the comet just grow the tail back in that vid? so what we are looking at here is a massive amount of solar whatever hitting the tail, it getting blown away (just like smoke from a chimney stack) and the comet trundling away happy as Larry growing a new one. what is there to be excited by?

  10. whogivesa

    urm ok

    Kinda like pissing in the wind then aint it?

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