The comet can be seen near the sun and (inset) in close up
The flaming space rock was also the 3,000th “sun-grazing comet” to be discovered by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) – a specialist telescope on board an unmanned space probe – since it began photographing the Sun 20 years ago.
The dot (circled) is a comet thrusting towards the Sun which was captured by the SOHO on September 14.
It was first spotted in the images by amateur astronomer Worachate Boonplod, of Samut Songkhram, Thailand.
Comets are clumps of frozen gases and dust that contain material from the beginning of our solar system.
Three thousand comets have been found by the telescope since 1995
“I would like to thank SOHO, ESA and NASA for making this opportunity possible, including other fellow comet hunters who I have learned a lot from.”
SOHO is on a mission to observe the Sun and interplanetary space, above Earth’s atmosphere which blocks solar radiation making it possible for us to live here.
This includes tracking the constant outward flow of particles known as the solar wind, as well as giant explosions of escaping gas called coronal mass ejections.
Spotting unknown comets was never one of the mission remits, but a fortunate by-product.
So far it was pinpointed an average of 200 new comets each year.
Joe Gurman, mission scientist for SOHO at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said: “SOHO has a view of about 12-and-a-half million miles beyond the Sun.
“So we expected it might from time to time see a bright comet near the Sun. But nobody dreamed we’d approach 200 a year.”
A large part of its success are the amateur astronomers who sift through the data online in almost real time and spot them as they near the sun,
A Blood Moon when the moon is tinged with a reddish glow
Karl Battams, a solar scientist at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. Battams, said: “The people who have found comets represent a very broad cross section as the program is open to anyone who has interest
“There are scientists, teachers, writers. We have even had two 13-year-olds.”
Fortuanately, the latest comet to be found is not heading Earth’s way.
Nasa has called for people to dismiss the doommongers who claim the apocalypse will follow the last of four ‘Blood Moons’ which happen on September 28, before the second coming of Christ.
Blood Moons are rare lunar events, when a solar eclipse gives a full moon a reddish tinge. In a tetrad of Blood Moons there are also six full moons in between.
But this has not stopped an online panic setting in after claims were made over several months.
Nasa has insisted there is no substantial space rock scheduled to come anywhere near Earth for at least 100 years.