In a series of events, a meteor shower has helped in solving the mystery of the vanishing comet. The dust from the cosmic bodies revealed to be the missing object. Back in December 2014, the astronomers could finally see the long-lost discovered Phoenicid meteor shower that had been missing since 1956.
The comet named 289P or Blanpain had been spotted back in 1819. Ever since then, the comet has been missing in action. This is a very strange event since it is extremely unusual for a body orbiting the sun to go missing. But the reappearance of the long-lost meteor shower has thrown light on the vanishing comet.
In 2003, the astronomers had discovered another small asteroid that was making its way towards the Blanpain orbit. This indicated that the space rock had been a part of the comet or the comet itself after shedding off a lot o the cometary dust.
This was what made the scientists realise that the seen dust must have been what was observed in 1956 by the Japanese researchers. They had seen a meteor shower that fell down from the Phoenix constellation. The comet leaves behind a trail of dust that gets ignited on reaching the Earth’s atmosphere which is what creates the meteor shower. Since the comet encircles the sun, the meteor showers usually occur at the same time every year.
Ever since the discovery back in 1956 on 5th December, the Phoenicid meteors had never been seen again. Jun-ichi Watanabe is the astronomer who works in National Astronomical Observatory of Japan inside Tokyo. He and his team members tried to trace back the meteors can check the location of the dust trail created by the comet. They wanted to see the point at which the comet’s dust trail should be present.
In the year 2010, the team members indicated that if Blanpain is the reason behind the lost Pheonicid shower, then the leftover dust from the comet would make up for yet another meteor shower in the year 2014. Out of 138 observed meteors, 29 meteors were identified by the researchers. The meteor shower even rose high during the predicted time. The annual shower wasn’t there because of the decline in a number of meteors.
THE END RESULT
After the analysis, it was found that Blanpain has lost more than 90% of the meteors. The dust was being lost quicker than expected. In 2019, the scientists would get yet another chance to test their theory.