Comet Atlas is falling apart, new photos confirm

Mar 19, 2020
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Well, rod, here is another one breaking up without an outburst. You remember I/2 Borisov broke off a fragment and showed a significant increase in brightness, but afterwards, when it seems to break up completely, it dims instead.

From the article: "From its detection date through mid-March, Comet Atlas ramped up dramatically, increasing in brightness by a factor of 27,500....."

How is it possible to expect a great show from this comet if it remains intact, and then it dims when the comet breaks up? Did it just run out of icy material for a "display", or is there much more to comets that I expected?
 

rod

Oct 22, 2019
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dfjchem721, *Did it just run out of icy material for a "display", or is there much more to comets that I expected?" My answer, I do not know. Comets lose mass, and when they break up, can lose plenty too, and this could change their brightness and coma size as they approach or pass away from the Sun. Spaceweather.com shows a diminishing light-curve obtained, https://www.spaceweather.com/ It is near 10th magnitude now. When I last viewed this comet on 30-March using my 10-inch telescope, it was near 8th magnitude. Here is another recent report on the comet's break-up, https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-news/comet-atlas-will-it-become-a-naked-eye-object/ There are some on the forums that may like the idea that a comet could be an alien spaceship in stealth mode passing by Earth :) However, I do not subscribe to that hypothesis :) My stargazing log records 20 different comets I viewed using my telescopes over the years. I was taught when I was a young lad, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it is probably a duck :)
 
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"I do not know?" The ultimate answer from a real person who can admit to not knowing it all. Very impressive! :)

Must confess that it may have been me who started that "alien spaceship in stealth mode passing by Earth". Just for kicks of course. I do not subscribe to that hypothesis either, not even visitation. Fermi famously asked "where is everyone" regarding aliens. He was a very clever guy.

This may be asking a bit much, but is there any compilation on the number of comets that break up and dim vs. those that break up and "light up"? Could it be something as simple as distance to the sun? It seems very puzzling.

You certainly have more insight than any I have ever met regarding comets. Jeez, how many programs do you have regarding ducks, er, I mean comets, and which is the best?

All these blasted questions from that guy........
 
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Thank you kindly for checking rod. Based on your past abilities, I never know what you might have up your sleeve, or in your top hat! :)

Will read up on comets at wiki's link. I suspect it is a long article, but it is clearly time for me to brush up on them. My apologizes in advance if I find something to ask you about.
 
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Wiki's link offered something really wild from a rapid look:

Exocomets. I don't think anyone ever mentioned these. I would have thought they were nuts, but they have been discovered (as I am sure rod knows):

"Exocomets beyond the Solar System have also been detected and may be common in the Milky Way.[115] The first exocomet system detected was around a star named Beta Pictoris, a very young sitting at around 20 million years old A-type main-sequence star, in 1987.[116][117] A total of 11 such exocomet systems have been identified as of 2013, using the absorption spectrum caused by the large clouds of gas emitted by comets when passing close to their star.[115][116] For ten years the Kepler Space Telescope was responsible for searching for planets and other forms outside of the solar system. The first transiting exocomets were found in February 2018 by a group consisting of professional astronomers and citizen scientists in light curves recorded by the Kepler Space Telescope.[118][119] After Kepler Space Telescope retired in October 2018, a new telescope called TESS Telescope has taken over Kepler's mission. Since the launch of TESS, astronomers have discovered the transits of comets around the star Beta Pictoris using a light curve from TESS.[120][121] Since TESS has taken over, astronomers have since been able to better distinguish exocomets with the spectroscopic method. New planets are detected by the white light curve method which is viewed as a symmetrical dip in the charts readings when a planet overshadows its parent star. However, after further evaluation of these light curves, it has been discovered that the asymmetrical patterns of the dips presented are caused by the tail of a comet or of hundreds of comets."

That is really amazing! Next up will be "interstellar objects transiting distant star systems". Why not?!
 
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rod

Oct 22, 2019
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Wiki's link offered something really wild from a rapid look:

Exocomets. I don't think anyone ever mentioned these. I would have thought they were nuts, but they have been discovered (as I am sure rod knows):

"Exocomets beyond the Solar System have also been detected and may be common in the Milky Way.[115] The first exocomet system detected was around a star named Beta Pictoris, a very young sitting at around 20 million years old A-type main-sequence star, in 1987.[116][117] A total of 11 such exocomet systems have been identified as of 2013, using the absorption spectrum caused by the large clouds of gas emitted by comets when passing close to their star.[115][116] For ten years the Kepler Space Telescope was responsible for searching for planets and other forms outside of the solar system. The first transiting exocomets were found in February 2018 by a group consisting of professional astronomers and citizen scientists in light curves recorded by the Kepler Space Telescope.[118][119] After Kepler Space Telescope retired in October 2018, a new telescope called TESS Telescope has taken over Kepler's mission. Since the launch of TESS, astronomers have discovered the transits of comets around the star Beta Pictoris using a light curve from TESS.[120][121] Since TESS has taken over, astronomers have since been able to better distinguish exocomets with the spectroscopic method. New planets are detected by the white light curve method which is viewed as a symmetrical dip in the charts readings when a planet overshadows its parent star. However, after further evaluation of these light curves, it has been discovered that the asymmetrical patterns of the dips presented are caused by the tail of a comet or of hundreds of comets."

That is really amazing! Next up will be "interstellar objects transiting distant star systems". Why not?!
Where are the exo-Oort Clouds? :)
 
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Where are the exo-Oort Clouds? Perhaps they need to be renamed.

Having read through the Wiki reviews on the hypothetical "Oort Cloud", the theoretical "Hills Cloud" and "Comet", it would appear they are written by different people with somewhat different views, no surprise there. But for me, the biggest surprise was the description of the Hills Cloud.

Without being too expansive, the Hills Cloud and Comet reviews put more severe constraints on the distance of the presumed Oort Cloud's outer edge, of which the Hills Cloud is supposedly an inner part of. These distances range from 0.79 ly to 3.16 ly. Reading between the lines suggest the author of the Hills Cloud review doesn't put a lot of confidence in this farthest limit. The review on "Comet" was similar in this respect. The Oort cloud review states right off the outer limit is 3.2 ly. Clearly a difference of opinions. What is most striking in all of this is the proposed density of the Hills Cloud, and that real objects appear to have been spotted there.

The Hills Cloud review suggests that it is likely the source of most comets, and even supplies comets to the presumed distant spherical Oort cloud. The Oort Cloud is hypothetical in that there is no direct evidence that it exists, since all comets could have arisen from a "stand alone" Hills Cloud and their trajectories modified by asymmetric out-gassing, the gas giants and the sun (etc?). The author of the Hills Cloud paper suggests that the spherical Oort Cloud is so weak and tenuous that after billions of years, it could only be maintained today by comets from the Hills Cloud. For me at least, that provides a good reason to dispense with any spherical Oort Cloud and go with Hills. Unfortunately, the extreme distance to the main body of comets in any hypothetical spherical cloud likely eliminates observational confirmation any time soon. Lacking that, it will remain hypothetical to some of us at least.

Something else I got out of the Comet review - there are a lot of hyperbolic comets previously observed. Having never studied this, I only became aware of the feature when the two interstellar objects appeared. Since they were observed with hyperbolic trajectories, it was noted in the main stream press that this defines them as leaving the solar system and never coming back. So with my extremely limited knowledge on this subject, how can all these other comets have hyperbolic orbits and yet none are considered interstellar objects? Must have missed something somewhere. Hoping rod can fill me on this, and the below.

One strange observation that needs to be addressed is the longevity of comet out-gassing. I might be hazy on all this data overload, but I believe it reported that short period comets last longer than long period comets. It would seem to me that the opposite would be true, but all depends on the amount of out-gassing per orbit, and the nature of the comet itself perhaps. Does your more than considerable knowledge of comets agree with this, and how could such a thing be true?
 
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rod

Oct 22, 2019
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Dave, interesting information but I know nothing about the Hill Cloud or other comet clouds claimed in theoretical modeling. We have another comet coming into the solar system now, I received the alert today from spaceweather.com. Here is the geeky ephemeris info, https://minorplanetcenter.net/mpec/K20/K20G94.html, https://www.spaceweather.com/, Comet SWAN (C/2020 F8).

The comet may be from the Oort Cloud, perhaps Hills Cloud but may have a period > 10,000 years. How many perihelion passages have astronomers observed this comet make using telescopes? Hint, Galileo started using the telescope in early 1600s :) The hyperbolic comets vs. interstellar, I am not sure. Perhaps the eccentricity is very large or much larger for the interstellar comets as interpreted in astronomy. All of the comet clouds claimed are hypothetical in my view until directly imaged.---Rod
 
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You certainly need to read up on the Hills Cloud, rod. According to this overview*, it is the only reason why any distant spherical cloud would have existed to begin with - at least that is my interpretation.

That is why I hinted your question may need to rephrased : "Where are all the exo-Hills Clouds"!! I paid more attention to this than any of the other "cloud" stories. It apparently has observational data to support it.

Hopefully you are not too consumed by Comet SWAN (C/2020 F8) to prevent your great posts from their typical regularity.

"Perhaps the eccentricity is very large " is dead nuts. Going back over it, that is clearly the part I missed.


* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hills_Cloud
 

rod

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FYI, Comet SWAN becomes visibile in northern hemisphere near end of this month and May skies, https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-news/new-comet-alert-trio-of-comets-grace-our-skies/ I checked some on the Hills Cloud. It is a component of the Oort Cloud :), Evidence for self-gravity in a massive Hills Cloud, "The Hills Cloud is a hypothesized disk of icy comets, asteroids and minor planets left over from the formation of the Solar System. Spanning ~250 - 104 AU it is relatively isolated from the gravitational effects of the inner Solar System and outer Galaxy. As the least observable component of the Oort Cloud, predictions for its mass span at least two orders of magnitude, typically ranging from 0.1 - 10 Earth masses. Here we show that self-gravity acting between bodies within the Hills Cloud dramatically changes their orbital distribution (the inclination instability; Madigan & McCourt, 2016). Inclinations increase exponentially, eccentricities lower (detaching the bodies from the inner Solar System) and orbits cluster in argument of perihelion. We show how the orbits of Sedna and other high perihelion objects can be used to constrain the mass of the Hills cloud."

I plan to wait until the 0.1 - 10 Earth masses of comets is imaged and not just hypothesized. In the mean time, there are some comets up there that I can see using my telescopes :)
 
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Just so everybody knows about this NASA web site, I am posting the link so we can all see the same picture of the break-up of Comet Atlas. You will only see the image of the comets (now plural I probably assume wrongly?) if you click on it today. Search archives if you wish to find it after today:


If you don't have this page bookmarked, do it now. I visit this link first thing every morning. It almost never disappoints.

Looks to be in quite a few pieces. What do they have on this one regarding period, etc. rod. I see it was first observed just last year in late December. And the fragments are probably not considered new comets, but I suspect they are given identifiers like Atlas 1A, 1B etc?

It certainly isn't living up to its name! Did not know that deities "break up".

Atlas by one reference was "condemned to hold up the celestial heavens for eternity". It can't even hold itself together for crying out loud!
 
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Your source of data on the Hills Cloud brings up two primary issues, size and mass, with one of these not in agreement with my source (duh!).

Size:

Wiki: "it is somewhere between 5,000 and 20,000 AU in size", which is different from your source, quoting your post -" Spanning ~250 - 104 AU". This is probably not that different regarding opinions on such scientific hypotheticals.

Mass is much closer:

Wiki: "13.8 Earth masses", and yours was "0.1 - 10". I am certain I have read suggestions that it could be 10-100 times greater. Somehow 10 earth masses seems pretty light weight. But it is mostly icy stuff so the bulk density is much lower than earth, providing a lot more objects/mass.

So, taking in all of this stuff, I have to revise my opinion of a spherical distribution of comets beyond the KB. However, I submit, due to the constant depletion and replenishing from the Hills Cloud (if true), that after 4.5 billion years it would no longer qualify as a cloud, which suggest dense "particulates". An "Oort Mist" seems more appropriate! :)

IMHO
 
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Unbeknown to modern creation denying scientists (matter spontaneously manifesting from the void...WOW!), there is evidence of comets regenerating violently back into a single, even more volatile nucleus. The only absolute truth ever stated by atheistic scientists is, 'WE DON'T REALLY KNOW'! Despite that self-admission, they demand you accept their version of reality as absolute.
 
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"matter spontaneously manifesting from the void..."

That always beats out your "magic wand theory" from whatever deity you worship.

and "The only absolute truth ever stated by atheistic scientists is, 'WE DON'T REALLY KNOW'!"

That you are making such statements on a computer of some kind is absolute proof that "WE DO REALLY KNOW'!"
 
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Images of comet nuclei are indistinguishable from asteroids. The dirty snowball THEORY, which you, the unlearned (indoctrinated), must accept as absolute fact, has failed miserably. Clueless scientists hanging on to proven fallacies insist that you believe them rather than your lying eyes. What has emerged and is as yet to be contradicted, is that comets are solid bodies (asteroids) having an opposing electrical charge to that of the sun. The very same phenomenon that occurs when two electrodes are oppositely charged in a vacuum...they GLOW! A phenomenon the scientific community would rather you dismissed as anomalous, is the fact that there are many examples of asteroids manifesting cometary behavior…Phaeton, for one.

“Theories do not alter facts and that the universe remains unaffected even though texts crumble.” Thomas Huxley
 
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Debamboozler, you would not even know about the nature of comets if it were not for science.

Not fair to use all these scientific facts to support non-scientific, supernatural deity-associated causation.

I suspect rod can add some commentary about comets and their opposing electrical charge to that of the sun.
 
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"matter spontaneously manifesting from the void..."

That always beats out your "magic wand theory" from whatever deity you worship.

and "The only absolute truth ever stated by atheistic scientists is, 'WE DON'T REALLY KNOW'!"

That you are making such statements on a computer of some kind is absolute proof that "WE DO REALLY KNOW'!"
So YOUR MAGIC WAND THEORY supersedes all others, I take it. I have interviewed many scientists and upon backing them into a corner, the unanimous admission is that at the heart of their 'knowing' is a disconcerting, all-pervading unknowingness. Please contradict this self-evident mathematical formula: 0 + 0 = 0!
"Sit down before fact as a little child [untainted consciousness], be prepared to give up every PRECONCIEVED notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you will learn NOTHING." Thomas Huxley
 
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Debamboozler, you would not even know about the nature of comets if it were not for science.

Not fair to use all these scientific facts to support non-scientific, supernatural deity-associated causation.

I suspect rod can add some commentary about comets and their opposing electrical charge to that of the sun.
With your own words you have elevated science to the status of deity. Your corollary, if I'm not mistaken, is that true knowledge derives only from 'others' who parrot theories to the satisfaction of their kind in the aviary. Forgive me for not worshipping at the feet of magnificently adorned chatterers.
"Read not to contradict and confute....not to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider. Nothing doth more hurt in a state than that cunning men pass for wise." Francis Bacon
 
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Scientists don't use magic wands. (And yes, it supersedes all others.) We use instruments, chemicals, test objects, etc. to derive absolute proofs in many cases. You might not even be alive were it not for all the many medicines etc. in the health sciences alone.

Again, science gave you the computing device you are using to trash on the very subject that you hate so much : The fundamental facts of nature as define by scientists. The products derived from these facts are absolute back-proofs of the reality of science.

And any scientists you backed into a corner, etc. was no scientists at all. Most likely they are figments of your imagination to make a story that sounds good for you, but is not true.

No scientist I know, and there are a few thousand of them, would ever allow another scientist to "back them into a corner", so they most certainly wouldn't let you.

Please take your obviously false and fantastical notions to a religous site. Most of us deal only in the real world.
 
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Debamboozler, you would not even know about the nature of comets if it were not for science.

Not fair to use all these scientific facts to support non-scientific, supernatural deity-associated causation.

I suspect rod can add some commentary about comets and their opposing electrical charge to that of the sun.
There is the 'natural' which is accepted as commonplace and then there is the extraordinary which science does not fully understand and therefore relegates any competing theories to the outer darkness of 'supernaturalism'.
 

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