Michal Kusiak, a student of astronomy at Jagiellonian University in Krakow and an editor of Astronomia.pl has discovered a new comet. This young astronomy enthusiast found the object in images sent back to Earth by the SOHO Solar Observatory. Information on the discovery has been already published on a Web Site of the British Astronomical Association.

©SOHO
Comet belonging to the Kreutz family


Michal Kusiak discovered the comet on 24th November. Soon after his discovery was confirmed by an observer from China, Bo Zhou. Currently the object awaits the confirmation of its orbit by the coordinator of the SOHO Comets Programme, Karl Battams. The official confirmation of the discovery is expected any day soon.

Kusiak's comet belongs to the Kreutz family, that is, to a formation of comets whose perihelion (the greatest distance of the orbit away from the Sun) is situated in the vicinity of the photosphere of our star. Such a small distance from the Sun results in total evaporation of almost all objects belonging to the family.

Michal Kusiak discovered the previously unknown object in images taken by the SOHO Solar Observatory. In orbit since 1995, the instrument has provided loads of data for heliophysicists, yet also astronomers have benefited from its capabilities, with more than 1300 comet discoveries so far.

Comets are spotted quite often in images taken by the LASCO Coronograph, a component of the SOHO. They are usually small objects and their number is so great that also amateur astronomers have been involved in their discoveries. These astronomy enthusiasts analyse images and report any 'suspected' objects. Polish amateur-astronomers are the strongest group in the project. Last year it was the Polish student who became famous as regards comet discoveries. Arkadiusz Kubczak, from Piotrkow Trybunalski, discovered the thousandth SOHO comet belonging to the Kreutz family.

Michal Kusiak comes from Zywiec and is currently a student of astronomy at Jagiellonian University in Krakow. He has participated in the SOHO Comets Projects for three years. The comet discovered by the student is his first discovery, yet he also contributed to the discoveries made by Arkadiusz Kubczak, whom he introduced to the comet-search project.

In order to participate in the project one needs to have access to a computer and a permanent connection to the Internet. The person must also be very patient and commit him/herself to conducting systematic analyses.

More information:

* Official SOHO Comets Project

[ Author: Astronomia.pl - Jan Pomierny ]
[ Translation: Marek Łukasik ]

Original Polish version: Nowa polska kometa