Phoenicid Meteor Shower from Dead Comet Arises again
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.
The Phoenicid meteor shower (named after the constellation Phoenix) was discovered by the first Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition on December 5, 1956, during their voyage in the Indian Ocean. However, it has not been observed again. This has left astronomers with a mystery: where did the Phoenicids come from and where did they go?
Two Japanese teams have found an answer to these questions by linking the Phoenicid meteor shower to a vanished celestial body, Comet Blanpain. This comet appeared in 1819 for the first time and then disappeared.(Read More)
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..