Meteor Shower
© Randall Carlson June 2024 Newsletter
In April 2024 a study was published in the journal Planetary and Space Science looking at one of the lesser-known meteor streams. In this study a team of astronomers and astrophysicists from the Institute of Astrophysics of the National Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan and the Astronomical Observatory Institute, A. M. University in Poland, examined evidence for a meteor stream whose radiant point was in the constellation Virgo, hence bearing the name the Virginid stream. The authors begin their report by establishing a context for their research. (If their wording is somewhat awkward, bear in mind that English is not their first language.) I have made minor editing and grammatical changes for clarity.

"Besides major planets a lot of smaller bodies are moving in the solar system. This population consists of comets, asteroids, and meteoroids. Comets and asteroids are parents of meteoroids. A huge number of meteoroids generated by a parent body form a meteoroid stream. The stream meteoroids are moving in interplanetary space in similar orbits close to the orbit of the parent. It is accepted that the activity of comets or their destruction are responsible for formation of meteoroid streams. Forming of a stable long-lived meteoroid stream can be provided by a periodic normal gas- and dust producing activity of comet which is observed during passage of the perihelion. (perihelion is the closest passage of the object to the Sun.) . . . A concept of the formation of meteoroid streams as a result of the cometary activity, as well the circumstances of their evolution and structure are described in a lot of papers. When the Earth crosses the meteoroid stream orbits, meteor showers occur. As was shown by Babadzhanov and Obrubov, 1992, one stream might produce from four to eight meteor showers observable on the Earth. Note, quadruple crossings are the most common among meteoroid streams. For instance, the Taurid meteoroid stream consists of four meteor showers. At the per-perihelion crossing with the Earth's orbit they are the Northern and Southern Taurids . . . which are observable on the Earth annually in September-November, as well as the Daytime beta-Taurids and Daytime zeta-Perseids observable in June-July which are occurring at the post-perihelion crossing. The well-known parent body of the Taurid stream is comet 2P/Encke; however, it turned out that more than 40 near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) relate to this family. The dynamical association of these objects was found and the family was called the Taurid asteroid-meteoroid complex. It was determined that asteroids of the Taurid complex very likely are extinct cometary nuclei or dead fragments of the larger comet-progenitor."

I would note that there is a widely held opinion that comet Encke is not the original progenitor comet of the Taurid stream, rather it is a fragment of the original nucleus which was much larger. As many enthusiasts of this work and research are aware, the Taurid meteor streams have likely played a profound role in both Earth and human history over the past 25 to 30 thousand years. It has been proposed that impact events at the lower Younger Dryas boundary were associated with the Taurid stream. It is likely that the Tunguska event of 1908 was caused by a fragment of the stream as well. It is probable that many more events involving the Taurids remain to be discovered.

The authors point out that the nuclei of extinct comets are covered by "a thick infusible mantle; as a consequence, normal cometary activity has ceased . . . Ground-based observations show that extinct cometary nuclei outwardly do not differ from asteroids. However, they may be distinguished by their orbital elements. A typical comet-like orbit of an object implies a cometary origin."

Orbital elements are defined by Wikipedia as "the parameters required to uniquely identify a specific orbit . . . There are many different ways to mathematically describe the same orbit, but certain schemes, each consisting of a set of six parameters, are commonly used in astronomy and orbital mechanics." I'll not go further into the matter of orbital elements here but will say that an understanding of these factors such as the ascending and descending nodes, the semi-major axis, the orbital inclination and eccentricity are key to understanding the function and use of ancient monuments that have now been extensively studied in the evolving science of archaeoastronomy.

What the authors of this paper are saying is that while it may be difficult or impossible to identify extinct or dormant cometary debris from regular asteroids, their respective orbital elements are distinct enough to differentiate between them.

Kokhirova and colleagues go on to say that "Several asteroid-meteoroid complexes were identified using this approach, such as the Piscid complex, the iota-Aquariid complex, the chi-Scorpiid complex, the sigma-Capricornid complex, etc." The challenge is in associating these various meteor streams with their parent object. As the authors explain "the parent bodies are not established for majority of known meteoroid streams. Furthermore, a search for the parents of meteoroid streams is a key stage in recognizing genetic associations between the minor bodies of the Solar system. We have continued this investigation of their interrelations and revealing new extinct comets among the NEAs . . ." [Near Earth Asteroids]

The Virginid complex which is the focus of this study, as can be assumed, has its radiant point in the constellation Virgo. The stream becomes active at night in the month of February, extends through March and April and terminates in May. The daytime version of the stream occurs within the period encompassing September through October. This makes the region of Virginid activity one of the largest of any known meteor stream.

Through their investigations the team found 4 groups of asteroids associated with the Virginid stream. They point out that "The associations found here are very strong indicators of a cometary origin of 27 NEAs moving on the comet-like orbits." They speculate that "All objects of each group formed as the result of a decay of the larger comet- progenitor of the relevant stream . . . As a result of a break-up of the parent comet smaller comets were produced which during evolution under gravitational and non-gravitational perturbations generated the substreams of the Virginid complex."

Then we get to the crux of the matter. ". . . whatever the mechanism of formation, this leads to an unambiguous conclusion, namely the Virginid complex includes four families that we identified. Each family consists of the meteoroid stream generating active showers and contains from 123 to 3 large extinct or dormant remnants of the parent comets (or comet). Besides, found association with known meteorites suggests the existence of large objects of an asteroidal origin in the stream, capable of producing meteorites in the future. The asteroids of a cometary nature prove that large bodies with the size from 110 m to 1.2 km are the constituent part of the stream."

110 meters in diameter is roughly 14 times as massive as the Tunguska bolide of 1908 and an impact of an object of this size would also be some 14 times more destructive - 11,500 square miles of devastation as compared to about 820 for the Tunguska blast. An object 1.2 km in diameter striking the Earth would result in major consequences for the Earth and for the civilization built upon it. The blast unleased by impact of an object this size would be in the order of 18 thousand more times powerful than the Tunguska blast. The energy released would exceed by an order of magnitude an all-out thermonuclear war.

This study again confirms what I have been saying for going on 3 decades now: We are sitting ducks in a cosmic shooting gallery. We absolutely must factor the big picture into our thinking and planning for the future if we are to have any hope of creating a sustainable and durable civilization. This study is consistent with others that force us to realize we are just in the early stages of understanding the cosmic terrain in which we find ourselves deployed.

And, finally I will say this: we absolutely must evolve beyond the utterly pointless, manufactured wars that our corrupt "leaders" keep imposing upon us for the furtherance of their own short-sighted agendas and lust for power.

Because, without question, there are objects out there, right now, circling the Sun in Earth crossing orbits engraved with our name and number and our vulnerability to cosmic destruction is in direct proportion to the extent that our attention is distracted by make-believe crises conjured up by fraudster politicians and promoted by their corporate, media and academic toadies.


Kokhirova, G. I. & 4 others (2024) Near-Earth asteroids of cometary origin associated with the Virginid complex: Planetary and Space Science, vol 243, April 1, p. 105869.