Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Self-Destruction of Infamous Comet Elenin

According to a report placed out by Sky&Telescope on August 30, Comet Elenin appears to be missing from the night sky. Although you can't really see it without a telescope, after all the comet it at the nineteenth magnitude, Comet Elenin has appeared to be missing - and astronomers think it self-destructed, or split in two. After all the rumors passed about the significant amount of effects Comet Elenin would cause, everyone can breath easier now that this comet is gone - and gone for good.

Comet Elenin on May 5, 2011 when it was 170 million miles (274 million kilometers) from Earth. Each picture is a combination of frames taken through green, red, and infrared filters. The stars appear as three separate images because the comet moved between each frame. Via astronomers Paul Weissman, Michael Hicks, and James Somers. Hicks and Somers were using the 24-inch (0.6-meter) AstroMechanics telescope and CCD camera at JPL's Table Mountain Observatory.

Now that the threat of hitting earth has subsided, what was Elenin supposed to do? Well, Elenin would have passed at its aphelion on the 10th of September, until mid-October when visibility was best - Elenin-watchers that have been keeping an eye on the comet have predicated that Elenin would have been ahead of schedule some, making people's anxiety levels rise dramatically. But how do we know it actually did destruct? It could be still coming at us, but not visible? The correct answer is that its core appears elongated, and its brightness decreased. These are signs of cometary breakup; but these are just signs. It hasn't been proven yet.

If you haven't heard of Elenin before, many people have started a rumor that Elenin brings doomsday, as in: "Thirst and famine when the comet will pass" (from Nostradamus: Century 2, Quatrain 62). But, science has proven that Elenin can't really harm us. Comet Elenin will pass 22 million miles from earth, which is equivalent to 100 lunar distances, or the 100 times the length from the moon to earth.

Comet LINEAR's 'young' comets

So, what about the validity of comet destruction? Elenin hasn't been the first to self-destruct, and it won't be the last. One comet, "LINEAR (1999 S4), which disintegrated shortly after its passage closest to the sun in the year 2000. Later, to astronomers’ surprise and delight, the Hubble Space Telescope discovered a small armada of “mini-comets” left behind by what seemed to be a total disintegration of Comet LINEAR. The pieces – which were still traveling in LINEAR’s old orbit – had each grown short comet tails..." Deborah Byrd writes in her article.

Read more about Elenin at our Elenin page. Read more from Picture caption of Elenin credit

No comments:

Post a Comment