‘Weak’ New Meteor Shower Due To Fragile Comet Dust

While the Camelopardalid shower only produced a few meteors, the lack of flashy disintegrations showed astronomers something new, a new study reveals: the dust from its parent comet (Comet 209P/Linear) was much more fragile than the usual. The reasons are still being investigated, but one theory is that after a century in space, there wasn’t much left to run into.

“Some mechanism was at work that efficiently fragmented the larger meteoroids,” stated Peter Jenniskens, a meteor astronomer with the SETI Institute who, along with colleague Esko Lyytinen, first predicted the existence of the shower a decade ago.

“Our best meteor was no more luminous than the star Vega,” added Jenniskens, “but it gave us a clue as to why there were few bright ones: It was so fragile that the meteoroid suddenly dispersed into a cloud of dust at the end of its trajectory.”

This ‘weak” shower stands in contrast to two meteor showers that took place out of interactions with comet 21P/Giacobinni-Zinner. This produced meteor “storms” in 1933 and 1946 during the Draconids. That comet was more active and the dust grains that left it likely had a lot of ice in them. Comet 209P/Linear did not have that type of ejection, nor was it very active.

You can read more Universe Today observations of the new shower in this past story.

Source: SETI Institute

Elizabeth Howell

Elizabeth Howell is the senior writer at Universe Today. She also works for Space.com, Space Exploration Network, the NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Astrobiology Magazine and LiveScience, among others. Career highlights include watching three shuttle launches, and going on a two-week simulated Mars expedition in rural Utah. You can follow her on Twitter @howellspace or contact her at her website.

Recent Posts

The James Webb May See the First Stars to Appear in the Universe

Astronomers continue to hunt for the elusive kind of star known as Population III stars,…

6 hours ago

Curiosity Finds Another Metal Meteorite on Mars

MSL Curiosity is going about its business exploring Mars. The high-tech rover is currently exploring…

11 hours ago

Hungry Black Hole was Already Feasting 800 Million Years After the Big Bang

Black holes swallow everything—including light—which explains why we can't see them. But we can observe…

13 hours ago

Mars Ingenuity Kicks up a Surprising Amount of Dust Every Time it Lands

Based on all the dust Ingenuity helicopter kicked up, a team of researchers has completed…

15 hours ago

This Binary System is Destined to Become a Kilonova

Kilonovae are extraordinarily rare. Astronomers think there are only about 10 of them in the…

1 day ago

How Can We Know if We’re Looking at Habitable exo-Earths or Hellish exo-Venuses?

The differences between Earth and Venus are obvious to us. One is radiant with life…

2 days ago