COMET LOVEJOY: THREAT TO LIFE ON EARTH?
The 1st fragment is not a threat, but there may be others out there. (1/19/2012)
On the matrix below the axis term is LOVEJOY at its minimum skip (-1326). This comet just survived a pass 120,000 km above the sun, something that was a great surprise to scientists. It indicated that the comet was larger than previously assumed. At skip -1325 is COMET. On the video below this comet is seen approaching the flaming sun. The image is reminiscent of a FLAMING SWORD (shown in the open text). Will this comet ever threaten Earth? A-priori word THREATENING is parallel to LOVEJOY, and I WILL BLOT OUT ALL LIVING WHICH I MADE FROM OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH touches LOVEJOY, but it's south of the plane of our orbit (see the diagram to the right of the matrix).
C/2011 W3 (Lovejoy) COVERAGE: C/2011 W3 (Lovejoy) is a periodic comet, classified as a Kreutz Sungrazer. It was discovered in November 2011 by Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy. The comet's perihelion took it through the Sun's corona on 16 December 2011, after which it emerged intact and continued on its orbit to the outer solar system.
As Comet Lovejoy was announced on the 16th anniversary of the SOHO satellite's launch it became known as "The Great Birthday Comet of 2011", and because it was visible from Earth during the Christmas holiday it was also nicknamed "The Great Christmas Comet of 2011".
Comet Lovejoy was discovered on 27 November 2011 by Terry Lovejoy of Thornlands, Queensland, during a comet survey using a 20 cm (7.9 in) Schmidt–Cassegrain telescope and a QHY9 CCD camera. He reported that it was "a rapidly moving fuzzy object" of 13th magnitude, and additional observations were made by him over the next couple of nights.
Independent confirmation of the comet did not come until 1 December, when it was observed by Alan Gilmore and Pamela Kilmartin at the Mount John University Observatory in New Zealand, using its 100 cm (39 in) McLellan Telescope. Upon confirmation, an official report was made to the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams, and the comet's existence was announced by the Minor Planet Center on 2 December. It is the first Kreutz-group comet discovered by ground-based observation in 40 years.
The first orbital elements using an assumed parabolic trajectory were published by Gareth Williams of the Minor Planet Center on 2 December, with an estimated perihelion of 0.0059 AU occurring near midnight UTC of 15/16 December. Further refinements were published during subsequent days, including one on 5 December, estimating perihelion at 0.0056 AU just before midnight on 15 December. On 11 December the first elliptical orbit was published, estimating perihelion at 0.0055 AU just after midnight on 16 December.
In space, the comet first became visible to the STEREO-A spacecraft on 3 December, and to the SOHO spacecraft on 14 December. As the comet approached the Sun it was observed by eighteen instruments on six satellites: STEREO-A and -B, SOHO, SDO, Hinode and PROBA2.
A small companion comet was detected in SOHO images on 14 December by Zhijian Xu, and later spotted by the twin STEREO spacecraft. It is believed to be a fragment of Comet Lovejoy that broke away several decades ago. This discovery was not unexpected, as Kreutz-group comets are often found with smaller companions.
At its brightest, Comet Lovejoy had an apparent magnitude of between –3 and –4, which is about as bright as the planet Venus. It is the brightest sungrazing comet ever observed by SOHO, and the brightest comet to appear since Comet McNaught of 2007, which shone at visual magnitude –5.5. Nevertheless, Lovejoy was largely invisible to the naked eye during its peak brightness due to its proximity to the Sun.
Comet Lovejoy reached perihelion on 16 December 2011 at 00:17 UTC, as it passed approximately 140,000 kilometres (87,000 mi) above the Sun's surface. It was not expected to survive the encounter due to extreme conditions in the corona, such as temperatures reaching more than one million kelvins, and the exposure time of nearly an hour. However, the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), as well as other Sun-monitoring spacecraft, observed the comet emerge from the corona intact. The STEREO and SOHO spacecraft continued to observe the comet as it moved away from the Sun.
Before perihelion, the nucleus of Comet Lovejoy had been estimated to be between 100 and 200 metres (330 and 660 ft) in diameter. Since the comet survived perihelion, it is thought that the nucleus must have been larger, perhaps more than 500 metres (1,600 ft). During the coronal passage, it is believed that a significant fraction of the comet's mass was burned off.
The first ground-based observation of Comet Lovejoy post-perihelion occurred on 16 December at 19:55 UTC, when it was seen by Rick Baldridge and Brian Day of the Foothill Observatory. Baldridge estimated the comet at magnitude -1. The comet's discoverer, Terry Lovejoy, made a pair of observations on 17 December at 01:12 and 20:24 UTC, with apparent magnitudes estimated at -1.2 and -0.8, respectively.
Images taken on 20 December around 08:00 UTC suggested that the comet had undergone significant changes. Taken by Czech astronomer Jakub Černý using the robotic FRAM telescope at Pierre Auger Observatory, the images indicated that "the nucleus had apparently become bar-shaped and was accompanied by a bright tail ray."
In the Southern Hemisphere, Comet Lovejoy became a naked eye object around 21 December. Astronaut Dan Burbank aboard the International Space Station photographed the comet during 21/22 December. By 22 December, it had dimmed to around 4th magnitude, and Southern Hemisphere photographers continued to capture images of Lovejoy. It is expected that the comet will continue to be visible to observers into early 2012, but that large telescopes will be required by early February before the comet fades from view completely.
Some concern was expressed after perihelion that the stresses induced in the comet by its close approach to the Sun might result in its disintegration. That observers were unable to locate a distinct nucleus amidst the more visible tail furthered this concern, but as of 6 January 2012, no evidence of a fragmentation event has been made apparent. Comet Lovejoy's orbit takes it well south of the solar plane, therefore it avoids any planets that would significantly perturb its orbit, and it may return for another perihelion.[7
See full Wikpedia story for all references.
ORBITAL MECHANICS ISSUES. The really important math is not the matrix significance (given further below). Rather it is that pertaining to the orbital mechanics of the comet and/or associated comets. These issues will be examined below as they are developed. I would note here that there is a letter hey in sequence with LOVEJOY. Hey means 5. When comet Shoemaker-Levy smashed into Jupiter, it came in not as one comet, but as a train of 22 comets hitting over days. We already know that Comet Lovejoy has at least one companion comet fragment. Could there by five? If so, what are the paths of the remaining fragments?
This comet is a member of the Kreutz family of sungrazing comets. Named after the German astronomer Heinrich Kreutz, who first studied them, Kreutz sungrazers are fragments of a single giant comet that broke apart back in the 12th century (probably the Great Comet of 1106). Kreutz sungrazers are typically small (~10 meters wide) and numerous. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory sees one falling into the sun every few days.
"I'd guess the comet's core must have been at least 500 meters in diameter; otherwise it couldn't have survived so much solar heating," says Matthew Knight of the Lowell Observatory and Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab. "A significant fraction of that mass would have been lost during the encounter. What's left is probably much smaller than the original comet."
SOHO and NASA's twin STEREO probes are monitoring the comet as it recedes from the sun. It is still very bright and should remain in range of the spacecrafts' cameras for several days to come. Researchers will be watching closely, because there a good chance for more surprises.
"There is still a possibility that Comet Lovejoy will start to fragment," continues Battams. "It’s been through a tremendously traumatic event; structurally, it could be extremely weak. On the other hand, it could hold itself together and disappear back into the recesses of the solar system."
"It's hard to say," agrees Knight. "There has been so little work on what happens to sungrazing comets after perihelion (closest approach).”
My son indicates that it is unlikely that the inclination of the comet would be changed sufficiently from this pass to threaten the Earth, however we still need to address the fragmentation issue. The semi major axis of the comet is close to 1 au, the distance of the Earth to the sun, but that would not occur until the comet was very far out of the plane of Earth's orbit around the sun. There is some question about how out gassing from the comet might affect its flight path, but that effect should be small when compared to the gravitational control exerted by the sun itself.
STATISTICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE MATRIX. As per my standard protocol, no statistical significance is assigned to the axis term, LOVEJOY at its minimum skip (-1326). The only a-priori terms are COMET andTHREATENING. There was about 1 chance in 41 that COMET would be with LOVEJOY in the 198 letters shown with a white background. For THREATENING there was about a chance in 18 that the word would be there, however this is somewhat misleading in that there were other words that would have worded as well like THREAT or THREATENER. Without considering such synonyms or the a-posteriori finds (like FLAMING SWORD or I WILL BLOT OUT ALL LIVING WHICH I MADE FROM OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH) the matrix existed against odds of about 738 to 1.