This photo from Astronomy Picture of the Day just blows my mind. In fact, the universe blows my mind. Click on the photo to see it larger.
Arcing toward a fiery fate, this Sungrazer comet was recorded by the SOHO spacecraft’s Large Angle Spectrometric Coronagraph (LASCO) on Dec. 23rd, 1996. … Positioned in space to continuously observe the Sun, SOHO has detected 7 sungrazing comets. Based on their orbits, they are believed to belong to a family of comets created by successive break ups from a single large parent comet which passed very near the sun in the twelfth century. The bright comet of 1965, Ikeya-Seki, was also a member of the Sungrazer family, coming within about 400,000 miles of the Sun’s surface. Passing so close to the Sun, Sungrazers are subjected to destructive tidal forces along with intense solar heat. This comet, known as SOHO 6, did not survive.