The comet was found on Jan. 2nd by an Australian amateur astronomer Alan Watson, who was inspecting images obtained by STEREO-A's Heliospheric Imager on Dec. 30, 2009. This comet vaporised before his close approach
at the coronograph  occulting disk. Click at the following image  for video.
This kamikaze comet is probably a member of the Kreutz sungrazer family. Named after a 19th century German astronomer who studied them in detail, Kreutz sungrazers are fragments from the breakup of a giant comet at least 2000 years ago. Several of these fragments pass by the sun and disintegrate every day. Most are too small to see. Today's fragment is a big exception. (
Sungrazing comets have been observed for many years. In the late 1880's and early 1890's, Heinrich Kreutz studied the possible sungrazing comets which had been observed until then and determined that some were sungrazers and some were not. He also realized that those which were indeed sungrazers all followed the same orbit pattern. Actually, they were all fragments of a single comet which had broken up at the past. It is probable that the original comet, and its fragments, have broken up repeatedly as they orbit the sun with a period of about 800 years. In honor of his work, this group of comets is named the Kreutz sungrazers. At the right image you can see a diagram of January probable comet passage of Kreutz comets.

Gif image



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