July 3, 2023 | David F. Coppedge

Comets Disintegrate

It takes faith to believe that comets form naturally.
What we observe is comets breaking up and disintegrating.

 

Another comet breakup was reported recently. Every comet we know is losing material to its tail when it rounds the sun. This accords with the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which corresponds with the tendency to disorder, as we know from common experience. To counteract this known, observable law of nature, long-agers must invoke a supply of new comets hidden out of sight, and new ones forming from debris disks when stars form.

Comet Hyakutake 1996 (DFC)

Distant comet cracks into two halves after being heated by the sun (New Scientist, 24 June 2023). Long-term comet C14/2018 F4 was observed breaking into two large pieces in 2020 as it came nearer the sun. To address this and many other comet breakups, reporter Jonathan O’Callaghan appeals to the hidden comet pantry—the Oort cloud—by raising the perhapsimaybecouldness index. Notice the difference between observation and the appeal to unseen things.

More than 40 comet fragmentation events have been observed over the past 150 years. The C/2018 F4 event is somewhat unusual, however, in that the comet involved originated in the very outer part of the solar system, probably in the Oort cloud – a shell of icy objects that orbits the sun far beyond Pluto.

The Oort cloud is inferred, not observed. Science is supposed to be about things that are observable and measurable. The breakup was reported on arXiv, the Cornell preprint server.

Researchers demystify the unusual origin of the Geminids meteor shower (Princeton University, 15 June 2023). Meteor showers, ever popular with stargazers, are often the remnants of comets and their tails. The Geminids, a December shower that appears to emanate from the constellation Gemini, have an unusual origin, this article states. From data taken by the Parker Solar Probe, Princeton scientists suspect the meteor shower comes from dust given off by an asteroid named 3200 Phaethon. Either this asteroid released dust like a comet, or it was struck by another object in a violent collision:

In comparing the simulated orbits from each of the models, the team found that the violent models were most consistent with the Parker Solar Probe data, meaning it’s likely that a sudden, violent event – such as a high-speed collision with another body or a gaseous explosion, among other possibilities – created the Geminids stream.

A simulation in the article compares the two main origin theories. Both involve disintegration, not formation.

Comet Hale-Bopp 1997 from Vasquez Rocks, California (DFC)

40 years ago, a comet came out of the blue in a surprise Earth flyby. Here’s what we know now. (Space.com, 26 May 2023). This is a historical article about the discovery of Comet IRAS-Iraki-Alcock in 1983, a particularly bright comet. It does not mention comet disintegration but mentions the long tail of this and other comets, and refers to comet “fragments” that have come closer to the sun than the 1983 comet.

Comet tails are evidence of loss of dust and gas to space that will never again return to the comet. Eventually, all comets must lose all their volatile material. A large number of sun-grazing comets lose material very rapidly. And not a few fall into the sun, never to be seen again.

One comet’s breakup cannot be extrapolated into a general rule, of course. But comets have long been a problem for Deep Time, and we have followed this problem for two decades. For more on comet disintegration and failure of theories to account for their origins, refer to these from our previous reports:

Comet NeoWise 2020 from Vasquez Rocks (DFC)

 

 

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Comments

  • John15 says:

    Dear David, it is such an obvious appeal to anti-entropy to invent unobservable things. The Oort Cloud for comets. Even the Kuiper Belt as a *source* for comets is a little thin on prospects. Traffic’s too sparse.

    Thank you also, dear David, for your own beautiful comet imagery. A true feast for the creationist’s soul!

    John

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