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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What The Hell Is That?


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I can't seem to leave some news stories alone...

Incoming!

Those of you who have followed my blog for any time will know that I often write about the risks presented by various and sundry space rocks hitting the Earth. We know it happens now and then. Just visit Meteor Crater in Arizona. Or go to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.

Yeah, both are the results of impacts. The latter was probably the one that finished off the dinosaurs.

Anyway...

Scientists have known for a long time that comets seem to follow some kind of an odd cycle. There are periods where there are few, and then times when there are a lot of comets. The best explanation for this cycle is that there is something out there in the outer solar system that disturbs the slow march of the distant comets in their nice, cold home called the Oort Cloud.

Imagine this if you can...

Way out there far beyond the orbit of the eight (or nine) planets we are all familiar with is a strange place. The sun's light is feeble, not much more than an unusually bright star among a myriad of other bright stars. There is very little difference in the temperatures here and that of true interstellar space. The sun's gravity is weak in the extreme, and the motions of the small left-overs from the formation of the solar system are slow. The orbital periods of these bodies are measured in millennia, not years. These objects wander slowly around out there in the Oort Cloud, minding their own business, but sometimes, some gravitational field sweeps over them. This sudden shift in gravity pushes and pulls the comets around, changing their orbits. Some are flung further out, away from the sun, and many are lost to interstellar space. But a few are shoved in, towards the distant sun.

As they careen inward, the gravity of other bodies continues to change their path. A few of them will eventually reach the inner solar system.

Where Earth lives.

And us.

And that is where the problems start.

These objects are small, maybe a few hundred feet to a few hundred miles across. They are very cold. They give off no light. And they are moving very fast.

And we have never seen them before, so we don't know where they are coming from or going to,

These "swarms" of comets can, for a short time, increase the number of comets entering the inner solar system by a factor of 1,000. The accepted number of the odds of Earth being hit by a comet is usually given as 1 in 10,000. In a typical swarm, the odds just went to 1 in 10. And...

We have never seen them before, so we don't know where they are coming from or going to,

The first warning we are likely to get is when the vapor trail of the comet entering the Earth's atmosphere shows up and someone looks at the sky and asks,

"What the hell is that?"

We need to understand all of this.

The survival of humanity depends on it.

Keep Loving!

Melodee Aaron, Erotica Romance Author
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Melodee's Books at BookStrand


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