July 14, 2012

96P/Machholz 1

One of The Brickmuppets Crack Team of Science Babes comes to us with news of a most interesting comet.  How interesting you ask?

"It's THIS interesting." she signs.

It seems that this comet is distinctly lacking in some of the elements usually found in comets like certain carbon compounds. This has some interesting implications...

It must have had a very unusual origin and might even have formed in another solar system probably very different from our own.


Yes this comet may well have come from outside our solar system. 

Via Spaceweather, there is an essay here on this comet and a few objects that may share the same origin.

As for looking at it, Pixy and his fellow antipodeans have a good view via telescope if they so choose.

For Northern hemisphere observers, the comet is unobservable before perihelion, but is viewable near the end of the month when it also appears low down in the evening sky. It remains observable although rapidly fading in brightness into August.

In any event, it's viewable via SOHO and is being covered at Space Weather so you might want to take a look at this lonely traveler...it might be very far from home indeed.

'Science Babe' is actually Shizune Hachimaki from Katawa Shoujo.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 05:43 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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1 Is it a closed orbit or an open orbit?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Sat Jul 14 17:50:54 2012 (+rSRq)

2 It's in a closed orbit but really off the plane of the elliptic. It's a short period comet that was discovered in '89.

The linked essay suggests it may be associated with (ie: broke off from) a very strange, very fast comet that appeared in 1490 and was never seen again.

Other possibilities mooted to account for its odd composition include an Oort cloud origin and that it may be almost 'burned ou', but in both cases it ought to have a similar composition to other comets spawned from our little star.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Sat Jul 14 20:30:39 2012 (e9h6K)

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