Comet Elenin Could Be Disintegrating

by Nancy Atkinson on August 29, 2011

Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on Twitter

C/2010 X1 Elenin, on Aug 29, 2011. Credit: Michael Mattiazzo. Used by permission

Astronomers monitoring Comet Elenin have noticed the comet has decreased in brightness the past week, and the coma is now elongating and diffusing. Some astronomers predict the comet will disintegrate and not survive perihelion, its closest approach to the Sun.

On August 19, a massive solar flare and coronal mass ejection hit the comet, which may have been the beginning of the end for the much ballyhooed lump of ice and dirt.

Comet Elenin as seenby the STEREO HI1-B on Aug. 6, 2011, from about 7 million kilometers from the spacecraft. Credit: NASA/STEREO

“We’ve been following it in the STEREO spacecraft images and a number of amateurs have been following it in their telescopes,” said Australian amateur astronomer Ian Musgrave, author of the Astroblog website. “Shortly after the coronal mass ejection the comet flared up and you could see some beautiful details in the tail, with the tail was twisting about in the solar wind. But shortly after that Earth- bound amateurs reported a huge decrease in the intensity of the comet. We think it may presage a falling apart of the comet.”

One journalist joked that maybe Comet Elenin just couldn’t take all the doomsday talk and publicity.

“It really has been a beautiful little comet and it deserves a better fate than to be overhyped by doom-sayers,” said Musgrave.

Elenin is a long period comet originating from the outer edges of our solar system, and Musgrave noted that comets coming from the Oort cloud which are making their first pass through the solar system tend to be under-performers in terms of brightness. “They don’t brighten as quickly as comets that come around more than once,” he said, “and in looking at the relationship between the brightness and the distance from the Sun, we find empirically that comets that brighten on roughly the same speed as Elenin tend to be likely to fall apart at perihelion.”

However, Musgrave added, each comet is unique. “Some comets will survive and some won’t. The fact that this comet decreased in brightness after the CME, possibly indicates that the comet will not survive. Another possibility is that merely the CME wiped away the coma — the bright cloud of particles around the comet — and the volatiles of the comet might take awhile to come back and recreate the coma, if it does survive.”

Elenin’s mass is smaller than average and its trajectory will take it no closer than 34 million km (21 million miles) of Earth as it circles the Sun. It will make its closest approach to Earth on October 16th, but be closest to the Sun on Sept. 10.

Animation of 5 images taken Aug 19,22,23,27,29 displaying the nucleus of Comet Elenin in the process of disintegrating. Credit: Michael Mattiazzo. Used by permission

Another Australian amateur Michael Mattiazzo has been taking images of the comet (see his website, Southern Comets) and he has noticed that the nucleus appears to be elongating. When that occurs, usually the comet disintegrates or splits apart. Above is an animation Mattiazzo created from images he took of Comet Elenin on August 19, 22, 23, 27 & 29.

You can see a wide-field view of the comet by astrophotographer Rob Kaufmanns, comparing the view from August 19, 23 and 26 at this link.

A similar process took place just a few weeks ago with another comet, 213P Van Ness.

Do comets break apart often?

“You don’t see it it that often, but it happens surprisingly more than people think,” Musgrave said. “Van Ness just happened, but ever couple of years there is a comet that visibly breaks up into fragments, maybe about 6 comets in the last 10 years — excluding the Kreutz-sun-grazer family of comets which split and vaporize on a regular basis.”

A closeup photo of the breakup of Comet S4 LINEAR taken on August 6, 2000 by the European Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile. Credit: ESO

Unfortunately, the likely demise of Comet Elenin hasn’t put a lid on the doomsdayers who have predicted earthquakes or three days of darkness or a collision with Earth.

“The doomsdayers are just saying that more bad things will happen!” laughed Musgrave. “But you have to remember that when a comet breaks up, the fragments stay in the same orbit. If it evaporates, you’ll have a mass of rubble and gas on the same orbit. People don’t seem to get that space is big, really big, and when a comet breaks up it follows Newtons Laws and the fragments will slowly draw apart, but over the timescale that we see them, the difference will be so miniscule.”

Sources: Conversation with Ian Musgrave, Astroblog, AstroBob, Southern Comets, STEREO

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

mark September 3, 2011 at 1:17 AM

I corrected my type-o sorry guys I am tire sick and tired…

Raphael Vanier September 4, 2011 at 2:28 PM

Thank goodness the sun shot this thing out of the sky. All the doomsayers were predicting doom and gloom. And it’s closest approach was on sept. 10th, dangerously close to the 10th anniversary of *you know what*! Now nobody can use it to spread fear.

The Doc September 12, 2011 at 7:44 AM

Closest approach (perihilon) “sun” .482 AU 9/11/2011 solar activity?, Sun-Elenin-Earth alignment 9/26/2011 solar flares at Earth, earthquakes ect,,, ? Closest approach (perigee) Earth .234 AU 10/16/2011 Earthquakes ect. (some reports say NASA buzz room closed down after recalculations reported .0004 AU http://planetxtownhall.com/index.php?topic=1964.0 ) We move into past orbital path of Elenin on 11/04/2011 either way 22 million or 22 thousand miles is pretty close following into the path might experience some debris able to penitrate to the Earth’s surface. Just a wating game. Check out the fake photo that NASA has released and claims to be a real one. Remember Elinin is not Nibiru, Nibiru is said to be running 8 AU behind Elinin. Could be what the Hopi indians refered to as the Blue cochina and the Red cochina (Hope I got the spelling right) Do a Google search for “Nibiru_Final_Update.pdf” It is revealed in the Bible that we can know when the time is near we will see the signs just not the exact day or hour and with all the natural distasters we have had recently and the unrest in the middle east. The evil (sexual immorality,greed,power, ect…) has risen to a point to that it was in the days of Noah. I personally see the signs and nothing would supprise me. Keep the faith hold fast to the end trust in Jesus.
P.S. Did I mention to trust in Jesus.
Harry

CJ Savvy September 5, 2011 at 12:19 AM

Just who the fuck named it Elenin? Spell it backwards and you have Ninele. That’s fucking nine eleven fused together.

WaxyMary September 5, 2011 at 1:03 AM

@CJ Savvy,

Just who the fuck named it Elenin? Spell it backwards and you have Ninele. That’s fucking nine eleven fused together.

Ok, CJ got a few questions for you. The name assigned is a bit of the public record by the way, check it out… also the person who is credited with its discovery pronounces his name a bit differently that you might, check that out as well.

BTW, Elenin spelled inside out as 2 three character groups is a double palindrome group –does that have any significance in your musings?

How do you feel about astrology, numerology, snake handling? Is it your normal mode of speaking to employ non-public wordage? Do you consider a theory as something yet to be tested and proved?

Mary

IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE September 5, 2011 at 3:17 AM

On Wikipedia, automated bots automatically delete ‘edits’ with four-letter swear words from mindless moron editors who think they are clever. Where are the bloody moderators here when you need them?!

CJ Savvy September 5, 2011 at 2:39 PM

@WaxyMary,
Actually I meant why the fuck name it Elenin? I know Leonid found it out but why the sinister name? As for the ‘logies’ and snake bit, it’s all crap to me. I thought ‘fuck’ is a public word as in WTF. A theory is just that; a fucking theory, proven by science in one age and debunked in another.

WaxyMary September 5, 2011 at 3:13 PM

As we all can see from these your current words you have shown an anger management malfunction. You display the background of a conspiratorial individual with some of your phrases. If you are such a nutter please, label yourself as such, it will facilitate the correct discriminatory filters we all possess.

As to your desire to use expressions such as wtf, and crap, please reign that desire in, save it for those places where such words might make a difference in your comments.

Mary

CJ Savvy September 6, 2011 at 2:35 AM

Look, I’m sorry you’re all worked up with my language. I guess I’m wrong to use them here. I didn’t mean to mess with you. Okay, let’s move on then, right?
Now just tell me if there is real concern for this comet coming along into our space? I’m no conspiracy buff but this ties in a whole lot with the stuff in the Book of Revelation.

WaxyMary September 5, 2011 at 3:13 PM

As we all can see from these your current words you have shown an anger management malfunction. You display the background of a conspiratorial individual with some of your phrases. If you are such a nutter please, label yourself as such, it will facilitate the correct discriminatory filters we all possess.

As to your desire to use expressions such as wtf, and crap, please reign that desire in, save it for those places where such words might make a difference in your comments.

Mary

The Doc September 12, 2011 at 7:03 AM

Sounds like you have a decent IQ. The key to wisdom is knowing that there will always be more to learn. Humility is a desirable character attribute.

CJ Savvy September 5, 2011 at 12:19 AM

Just who the fuck named it Elenin? Spell it backwards and you have Ninele. That’s fucking nine eleven fused together.

WaxyMary September 7, 2011 at 4:58 AM

@Gra Sim,

You did not address several of my questions, I would like you to attempt that task, if you would be so kind. If you wish to know which items you have not addressed I will be happy to list them. You will need to state you have no clue to that list before I will undertake your work for you though.

Oh, and btw, your writing tone has continued to descend to a level I am not comfortable reading. If you can not write without that tone please do not address your comments to myself, they will not be answered.

As to any statements you have made to the subject of this article and my many replies to you and several other persons making comments which indicate doubt and some amount of dread such as your comments I show below.

8/31/2011
If it breaks up won’t that make going through it’s tail more dangerous ?

9/2/2011
Surely that’s presumption at this stage, it would depend on if there was a sizable chunk left to form another coma would not it ?

From there to where you are now and the statements you are anticipated making, by myself, in any future comments you might post I can see only one result. I have already indicated that result in a prior comment.

Again, I ask, what is your reason for posting to this old thread of comments, to wit, your posting of 9/4/2011 – Hi again Mary, Is it true that Elenin is still in one piece ? Cheers

Mary

WaxyMary September 7, 2011 at 4:58 AM

@Gra Sim,

You did not address several of my questions, I would like you to attempt that task, if you would be so kind. If you wish to know which items you have not addressed I will be happy to list them. You will need to state you have no clue to that list before I will undertake your work for you though.

Oh, and btw, your writing tone has continued to descend to a level I am not comfortable reading. If you can not write without that tone please do not address your comments to myself, they will not be answered.

As to any statements you have made to the subject of this article and my many replies to you and several other persons making comments which indicate doubt and some amount of dread such as your comments I show below.

8/31/2011
If it breaks up won’t that make going through it’s tail more dangerous ?

9/2/2011
Surely that’s presumption at this stage, it would depend on if there was a sizable chunk left to form another coma would not it ?

From there to where you are now and the statements you are anticipated making, by myself, in any future comments you might post I can see only one result. I have already indicated that result in a prior comment.

Again, I ask, what is your reason for posting to this old thread of comments, to wit, your posting of 9/4/2011 – Hi again Mary, Is it true that Elenin is still in one piece ? Cheers

Mary

WaxyMary September 7, 2011 at 4:58 AM

@Gra Sim,

You did not address several of my questions, I would like you to attempt that task, if you would be so kind. If you wish to know which items you have not addressed I will be happy to list them. You will need to state you have no clue to that list before I will undertake your work for you though.

Oh, and btw, your writing tone has continued to descend to a level I am not comfortable reading. If you can not write without that tone please do not address your comments to myself, they will not be answered.

As to any statements you have made to the subject of this article and my many replies to you and several other persons making comments which indicate doubt and some amount of dread such as your comments I show below.

8/31/2011
If it breaks up won’t that make going through it’s tail more dangerous ?

9/2/2011
Surely that’s presumption at this stage, it would depend on if there was a sizable chunk left to form another coma would not it ?

From there to where you are now and the statements you are anticipated making, by myself, in any future comments you might post I can see only one result. I have already indicated that result in a prior comment.

Again, I ask, what is your reason for posting to this old thread of comments, to wit, your posting of 9/4/2011 – Hi again Mary, Is it true that Elenin is still in one piece ? Cheers

Mary

Joe September 8, 2011 at 4:45 PM

Extinction level events are just out of our control…..what could you do but be thankful for what ever time you had……but why would we throw it all away on our own with so much hatred and greed……greed man it rots the bones…..corruption within is dragging us all to the brink of collapse….we have to keep going and cut the funding off to embedded “gangsta’s” in the American system…..skim skim skim skim it’s what they do and they do it to the point of treason….pull back the reigns on the Federal Government….no more …..that’s enough already

WaxyMary September 8, 2011 at 6:51 PM

@Joe,

True words in the main, but do you personally think this is an ELE would be my question. The reason I ask is just this, your comments address this article about how Comet Elenin could be disintegrating as if it was irrelevant since ELE are out of our control.

If that was not your origin then I beg your pardon, if it was where you were coming from then, truly, you need to get some of the tools in your box sharpened.

Mary

WaxyMary September 8, 2011 at 6:51 PM

@Joe,

True words in the main, but do you personally think this is an ELE would be my question. The reason I ask is just this, your comments address this article about how Comet Elenin could be disintegrating as if it was irrelevant since ELE are out of our control.

If that was not your origin then I beg your pardon, if it was where you were coming from then, truly, you need to get some of the tools in your box sharpened.

Mary

WaxyMary September 8, 2011 at 6:51 PM

@Joe,

True words in the main, but do you personally think this is an ELE would be my question. The reason I ask is just this, your comments address this article about how Comet Elenin could be disintegrating as if it was irrelevant since ELE are out of our control.

If that was not your origin then I beg your pardon, if it was where you were coming from then, truly, you need to get some of the tools in your box sharpened.

Mary

WaxyMary September 8, 2011 at 6:51 PM

@Joe,

True words in the main, but do you personally think this is an ELE would be my question. The reason I ask is just this, your comments address this article about how Comet Elenin could be disintegrating as if it was irrelevant since ELE are out of our control.

If that was not your origin then I beg your pardon, if it was where you were coming from then, truly, you need to get some of the tools in your box sharpened.

Mary

The Doc September 12, 2011 at 6:58 AM

Selfish/selfcentered FEAR is the primary cause of our defects of character –
Pride, Anger, Greed, Gluttony, Lust, Envy, Sloth FAITH obliterates fear through LOVE and unselfish service and sacrafice to our brothers and sisters

angela galani September 10, 2011 at 8:54 AM

Take a look here first:

http://www.astrovox.gr/forum/viewtopic.php?t=14875

There is a video from a scientist

pogpog September 10, 2011 at 9:10 PM

Actually comet Elenin’s trajectory is far from hitting Earth, in fact so far away that you can’t even see it on a naked eye when it enters perihelion. Only humans has the desires to falsify events that could literally destroys peaceful minds & lives. Don’t trust sites and other blogs that is not accredited to NASA. ELE stands for Enjoy Life Enjoy, not that extinction level event.

pogpog September 10, 2011 at 9:10 PM

Actually comet Elenin’s trajectory is far from hitting Earth, in fact so far away that you can’t even see it on a naked eye when it enters perihelion. Only humans has the desires to falsify events that could literally destroys peaceful minds & lives. Don’t trust sites and other blogs that is not accredited to NASA. ELE stands for Enjoy Life Enjoy, not that extinction level event.

pogpog September 10, 2011 at 9:13 PM

funny why my comment was deleted…thanks by the way.

pogpog September 10, 2011 at 9:13 PM

funny why my comment was deleted…thanks by the way.

The Doc September 12, 2011 at 7:51 AM

Forgot to add in http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/sbdb.cgi?sstr=elenin&orb=1
note solution date near bottom
solution date : 2011-Sep-09 15:50:23

WaxyMary September 6, 2011 at 3:10 AM

@CJ Savvy,

Let me be brief and to the point, concerns are not uncommon from the vast number of websites, emails, and whatnot all talking about the terrible things in store for us here on Earth from Comet Elenin or something hiding behind it, some dark companion masked by this unremarkable, tiny, icy, comet.

There is nothing to fear in Comet Elenin. Simple and right to the heart of the matter.

You really need to think about what you read, such as how this tiny speck mask can an ginormous planet as has been one of the things stated of Comet Elenin.

You need to re-read the many posts here, this article here where you find these several comments of ours, the posts I have made here, and review your classic high school science class materials. Nowhere in any of these well thought out, logical articles, posts, books will you find any which could explain or condone the pseudo-science which is attributed to this comet. The hoax’s on you, dude.

As to any book of revelation references you might read I personally tell you –none are true or relevant regarding Comet Elenin.

Mary

WaxyMary September 6, 2011 at 3:10 AM

@CJ Savvy,

Let me be brief and to the point, concerns are not uncommon from the vast number of websites, emails, and whatnot all talking about the terrible things in store for us here on Earth from Comet Elenin or something hiding behind it, some dark companion masked by this unremarkable, tiny, icy, comet.

There is nothing to fear in Comet Elenin. Simple and right to the heart of the matter.

You really need to think about what you read, such as how this tiny speck mask can an ginormous planet as has been one of the things stated of Comet Elenin.

You need to re-read the many posts here, this article here where you find these several comments of ours, the posts I have made here, and review your classic high school science class materials. Nowhere in any of these well thought out, logical articles, posts, books will you find any which could explain or condone the pseudo-science which is attributed to this comet. The hoax’s on you, dude.

As to any book of revelation references you might read I personally tell you –none are true or relevant regarding Comet Elenin.

Mary

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: