SETI Warns Of Parent Body That Caused Recent Meteor Shower: “Looking For A Potentially Hazardous Comet”

Wednesday, February 24, 2016
By Paul Martin

Mac Slavo
February 24th, 2016
SHTFplan.com

Researchers at the SETI Institute spotted something odd on New Year’s Eve over New Zealand. A stream of meteor showers appeared out of nowhere and now scientists around the world are scrambling to figure out where it originated and whether the parent body of that shower could be headed towards earth.

The shower, dubbed the Volantids, had not been seen before and has never been identified on previous radar observations, suggesting that a new, as of yet unknown object has now entered our solar system.

A new network of video surveillance cameras in New Zealand has detected a surprise meteor shower on New Year’s Eve. The shower is called the Volantids, named after the constellation Volans, the flying fish, from which the meteoroids appear to stream towards us.

“In a way, the shower helped chase bad spirits away,” says SETI Institute meteor astronomer Peter Jenniskens. “Now we have an early warning that we should be looking for a potentially hazardous comet in that orbit.”

Jenniskens and Baggaley describe the network and report on the new result in a paper submitted for publication in the Journal of the International Meteor Organization. The paper characterizes the trajectories of 21 Volantids measured on December 31, and two more on January 1.

“These were naked-eye meteors and rates peaked at the time of the local New Year’s Eve celebrations,” notes Jenniskens. “One out of three meteors that night came from this shower.”

The shower was not seen the year before and is not known from past radar observations.

“A confined stream of dust particles must have been steered into Earth’s path for a brief moment,” says co-author and meteoroid stream dynamicist Rachel Soja of the University of Stuttgart, Germany, who calculated that the Earth will be safe from the comet and its debris in the near future.

The meteoroids move in a fairly steeply inclined orbit similar to that of some Jupiter-family type comets.

“The parent body of this stream still eludes us,” says Soja. “It may not be active now and the high inclination may make it difficult to spot.”

Source: Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI Institute)

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