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Evidence Found for Undiscovered Comet That May Threaten Earth

July 28, 2011 1 comment

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February eta Draconid meteor of Feb. 2011
This February eta Draconid was filmed by Peter Jenniskens with one of the low-light-level video cameras of the Cameras for Allsky Meteor Surveillance (CAMS) station in Mountain View, California, at 07:59:24 UT on February 4, 2011.
CREDIT: All Sky Cameras/Peter Jenniskens

A surprise meteor shower spotted in February was likely caused by cosmic “bread crumbs” dropped by an undiscovered comet that could potentially pose a threat to Earth, astronomers announced today (July 27).

The tiny meteoroids that streaked through Earth’s atmosphere for a few hours on Feb. 4 represent a previously unknown meteor shower, researchers said. The “shooting stars” arrived from the direction of the star Eta Draconis, so the shower is called the February Eta Draconids, or FEDs for short.

The bits of debris appear to have been shed by a long-period comet. Long-period comets whiz by the sun very infrequently, so it’s tough to Read more…