Comet Lovejoy, discovered a few weeks ago, was supposed to melt as it came so close to the sun that the temperatures would hit several million degrees. Now we have word that the comet has miraculously survived its close fly-by.
Astronomers watching live with NASA telescopes were surprised to see Lovejoy come out on the sun’s other side after coming within 75,000 miles (120,000 km) of the fiery orb. It has been described as a relatively small object, even a “dirty snowball,” so such a close pass should have killed it.
Astronomers now think that the comet was larger than they thought. And I wonder if it was also made up of tougher material than they thought as well. Either that or its speed may have been faster than thought. Whatever the reasons, it has survived. American comet discoverer David H. Levy sums up the situation quite nicely, having once said, “Comets are like cats; they have tails, and they do precisely what they want.”