The death of a comet that plunged into the sun was captured on camera this month for the first time in history, scientists say.
The comet met its fiery demise on July 6 when it zoomed in from behind the sun and melted into oblivion as it crashed into the star.
It was NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), a satellite orbiting Earth that studies the sun, which witnessed the comet’s death-blow.
One of the SDO spacecraft’s high-definition imagers “actually spotted a sun-grazing comet as it disintegrated over about a 15 minute period (July 6, 2011), something never observed before,” SDO officials said.
Comets have been spotted near the sun before, but last week’s object was the first to be observed in real-time as it disappeared.
“Given the intense heat and radiation, the comet simply evaporated away completely,” SDO officials said.
The comet was a type known to astronomers as a sun-grazing comet because its path brought it extremely close to the sun.