September 22, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Coming "meteor storm": the tail of comet SW3 will fall to Earth on May 31

Scientists are talking about an extraordinary phenomenon regarding the so-called “tail” of comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3, which is expected to “fall” to Earth and thousands of frozen meteors will scatter in our planet’s atmosphere.

The phenomenon is expected to become noticeable in the northern United States and parts of Canada on Tuesday May 31st. However, these fragments are not visible until the Earth “passes” through them. This year, our planet is set to cross this region on May 31st, although the comet itself is estimated to pass through its “neighborhood” a few months later.

During the “storm” the number of meteors can reach up to 10 thousand per hour. The duration of increased meteor activity will be about two hours. The peak of the phenomenon will be observed in the morning of May 31, around 6:30.

Comet SW3 was first identified in 1930 by German observers Arnold Schwassmann and Arno Arthur Wachmann. Over time, the comet lost its power, becoming weaker and weaker. However, in 1995, it suddenly became almost 400 times brighter and was visible even to the naked eye. This happened because the comet’s frozen core split into four pieces, releasing huge amounts of gas and solid particles. By 2006, however, the comet had broken up into 68 pieces and, according to experts, has probably since broken into even more small fragments.

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