COMET SWAN (C/2020 F8): A new comet has been discovered, and in late May it will pass by the sun near the orbit of Mercury. No, it's not Comet ATLAS (C/2019 Y4), which is currently falling apart on a similar trajectory. Instead, this is Comet SWAN (C/2020 F8). Michael Mattiazzo of Swan Hill, Victoria, Australia was discovered the comet on April 11, 2020, when he was looking at data from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). Images taken by astronomers, confirm that the comet is bright (8th magnitude), green, and has a long tail. SOHO's SWAN instrument was not designed to find comets. Its job is to survey the solar system for hydrogen. When the solar wind blows into a cloud of hydrogen-bearing compounds, the impact produces UV photons that SWAN can photograph. "For SWAN to see a comet, it means the comet must be producing a fairly significant amount of hydrogen," explains Karl Battams of the Naval Research Lab in Washington DC. "This is usually in the form of water-ice." "It's extremely likely that Comet SWAN is in 'outburst' mode," he continues. "That is, some major eruption happened to this otherwise small and faint comet, releasing a massive cloud of hydrogen-rich volatiles. SWAN is picking up on this sudden dump of hydrogen into the inner solar system." If the outburst continues, Comet SWAN could become visible to the naked eye next month. Preliminary light curves suggest that it could reach 3rd magnitude--dim, but visible without optics. However, Battams, who correctly predicted the demise of Comet ATLAS, is not so sure. "I doubt that the comet will maintain its current impressive appearance, and will quite possibly fade away soon," he says. "But we've only been viewing it for a couple of days, so no one knows." https://spaceweather.com/ https://remanzacco.blogspot.com/2020/... Comets are unpredictable, and that's what makes them worth watching. It is not yet clear if the hydrogen outbursts will affect the trajectory of comet SWAN. If the eruptions continue to occur on the comet, its path towards the Sun could change. Stay Tuned!