National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

Phoenicid Meteor Shower from Dead Comet Arises again after 58 Years

| Science

Time-lapse photography of Phoenicid meteor shower. Made from all sky images taken continuously from 23h14m to 26h48m UT, Dec. 1, 2014. The meteors appearing at 0:20, 0:46, 0:57, 1:18, 1:38, 1:42 belong to the Phoenicid meteor shower. The central bright spot is the Moon, and long lines of light moving upward or downward are airplanes. Camera: Pentax K-3 + SIGMA 4.5mm F2.8, each exposure 3 seconds, at Sandy Point, North Carolina, U.S.A.. (Photos: Hiroyuki Toda) (Credit: NAOJ)

Japanese astronomers observed the elusive “Phoenicid meteor shower” and have determined that it was spawned by the now vanished Comet Blanpain. They also found that Comet Blanpain was active, though only weakly, in the early 20th Century. This is the first time that researchers could determine the activity of a comet by observing its associated meteor shower. These results are important for understanding the evolution of minor bodies in the Solar System.


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