When something’s on a crash course to the Sun, you don’t expect it to do anything other than burst into a fiery ball of plasma nothingness.
The comet, officially known as c/2011 w3 Lovejoy, was considered “doomed” as it traveled toward our central star. However, as Lovejoy made its final approach at about 7 p.m. EST on December 15, astronomers were surprised to witness a very much intact comet emerging from the other side.
Imagine: Only about 87,000 miles from the surface of the sun, withstanding temperatures upwards of two million degrees Fahrenheit.
The odds of successfully navigating an approach to a star that close is 3,720 to one.
Image courtesy NASA.