Interpretation of the observations made in 1883 in Zacatecas: A fragmented Comet that nearly hits the Earth


image Schwassmann-Wachmann3 Comet: Fragment B photographed during its passing in 2006. We can observe up to 73 fragments. Credit: NASA, ESA, H. Weaver (JHU/APL), M. Mutchler and Z. Levay (STScl)

In 1883, on the 12th and 13th of August, Mexican astronomer Jose A. y Bonilla observed several objects passing in front of the solar disk. In 1886 in the L'Astronomie magazine, he reported his observations without providing a hypothesis explaining the registered phenomena. Our objective in this work is to interpret, with current knowledge, what he observed in Zacatecas.

Our working hypothesis is that what Bonilla observed in 1883 was a highly fragmented comet, in an approach almost flush to the Earth's surface. The fragmentation of the comet's nucleus is a phenomenon known since the XIX century. Using the results reported by Bonilla, we can estimate the distance at which the objects approach to the Earth's surface, their size, their mass and total mass of the comet before fragmentation.

According to our calculations, the distance at which the objects passed over the Earth's surface, was between 538 km and 8,062 km, the width of the objects was between 46 m and 795 m and its length between 68 m and 1,022 m, the object's mass was between 5.58e8 kg and 2.5e12 kg. Finally, the mass of the original comet, before fragmentation, was between 1.83e12 and 8.19e15 kg, i.e., between 2e-3 and 8.19 times the mass of Halley Comet.

Hector Javier Durand Manterola, Maria de la Paz Ramos Lara, Guadalupe Cordero (Submitted on 12 Oct 2011)

Comments: 15 pages, 3 figures

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)

Cite as: arXiv:1110.2798 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1110.2798v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history
From: Hector Javier Durand-Manterola [view email]
[v1] Wed, 12 Oct 2011 21:01:12 GMT (454kb)

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