Surprise Comet Streaks into Our Solar System

PureInsight | January 23, 2003

[] According to a report from the National Geographic News on Dec. 19 2002, an unidentified strange comet entered our part of the solar system, moving east-southeast through the constellation Hercules.

A Japanese amateur astronomer, Tetuo Kudo, discovered the comet early on the morning of December 14. It is now named Kudo-Fujikawa (officially designated C/2002 X5).

"Much of what Earth will be able to see of Kudo-Fujikawa is contingent on the activity that occurs when it is closest to its pass by the sun (perihelion) on January 28, 2003," said Clay Sherrod, an astronomer with the Arkansas Sky laboratory. Sherrod continued, "the retrograde orbit (meaning the comet is coming in at an opposite direction in relation to the orbits of the primary planets) of this comet and its close pass from the sun at that time have suggested to many, myself included, that the comet might potentially break up from solar radiation and solar wind. If this does indeed occur, then we might expect more volatile activity from this object than if it passes perihelion totally intact and unscathed."

"Now, if this does happen, then we might expect an incredible comet to be visible as the inner, more volatile and rare gases are exposed to solar radiation," Sherrod said.


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