It appears that Comet Ison is not flying solo, but is accompanied by another speeding projectile of plasma, Comet Encke.
COMET MOVIE–UPDATED: Comet ISON is getting all the press, but there is a second comet near the sun as well: Comet Encke. NASA’s STEREO-A spacecraft is monitoring both. Click to view an updated movie of the solar wind buffeting two comets:
In the movie, which spans a three+ day period from Nov. 20 to Nov. 23, the sun is to the right, off-screen. At first glance, Earth and Mercury appear to be labeled backwards. The strange arrangement is actually correct. This is how the two planets appear from STEREO-A’s vantage point over the farside of the sun.
“The dark ‘clouds’ moving from left to right are density enhancements in the solar wind, and these are what are causing the ripples you see in the comet tails,” explains Karl Battams of NASA’s Comet ISON Observing Campaign.
The ripples could become even more dramatic if a CME hits the comets. This is Comet ISON’s first visit to the sun, but Comet Encke has been here before. In 2007 a CME hit Encke and ripped off its tail. Battams and other researchers hope something similar is about to happen now. “I’d love to see a big CME hit Comet ISON,” he says in a story from Science@NASA. Watching the impact could teach researchers new things about CMEs and comets.
Provided by: SpaceWeather.com
Lets just hope, should the researcher’s wishes come true, that the trajectory of those wishes (CMEs) aren’t triggered while facing the Earth. In other words, be careful what you wish for!
Some are saying that when Ison’s mass plowed through the debris field of the asteroid belt, that Ison managed to dislodge some of its debris, dragging rubbish with it as it swung by Mars, headed towards the sun. Others are concerned over what sort of electromagnetic interactions will be exchanged between Ison and the sun. Considering the size and mass of Ison, is it possible the interaction could trigger the eruption of a CME (Corona Mass Ejection) sufficient in size to worry the denizens of Earth when Ison passes through perihelion?
As Ison’s dissimilar charge falls into the sun’s gravitational well, with the gap in proximity diminishing, the two plasmas will begin to electrically jet and discharge Massive Thunderbolts between each other.
Electrical Scarring is the theory that some surface features of various cosmic bodies, are caused by electric discharges or the exchange of cosmic mega-lighting bolts – hence the pock-marked surface of the moon.
From now until Dec. 26th, Ison will increase in brilliance becoming a spectacular image in the day time sky of the northern hemisphere; at night, outshining the moon by several orders of magnitude.