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June 8 2013

Suicidal Comets Make Good Solar Probes, Scientists Say

Scientists can use daredevil comets to probe regions of the sun's complex, hellishly hot atmosphere that are off-limits to spacecraft, a new study reports.

The sun's magnetic field caused the tail of Comet Lovejoy to wiggle in strange ways during the icy wanderer's suicidal plunge through the solar atmosphere in December 2011, researchers have found, suggesting that the close approaches of such "sungrazer comets" can help astronomers better understand Earth's star.

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