Comets found lurking closer to Earth than previously thought

August 3, 2013 SPACE - Colombian scientists have discovered what may be a graveyard of comets in a very strange spot — and now, some of the interred are coming back to life. These so-called “Lazarus” comets, described in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, may represent a long-lost population of the icy space travelers and may alter scientists’ understanding of their origins. These chunks of ice and rock, typically a few kilometers across, have long held human imaginations as “falling stars.” As a comet travels around the sun, the heat and light vaporize some of the water ice trapped inside, causing the signature tail of glowing gas and dust to form behind it. They’re thought to have started out near the fringes of the planetary system, with stretched, elliptical orbits that are so extreme that some of comets circle the sun only once in several thousand years. Others have quicker round-trips of a couple centuries or so; these so-called short-period comets are the source of such famous sightings as Halley’s Comet. But in recent years, astronomers started to pick up strange, comet-like bodies popping up where they hadn’t expected them — in the main belt, the wide ring of asteroids that sits between Mars and Jupiter. 
The surprising property of these objects is that their orbits are entirely asteroidal while their behavior is entirely cometary,” the researchers wrote. That’s surprising, because comets aren’t supposed to be there, right in the middle of the planetary lineup. The main belt is filled with rocky debris from several feet to hundreds of miles long. These asteroids could have been the building blocks of another planet, had Jupiter’s gravity not kept the fragments apart. What were comets, thought to originate on the fringes of our solar neighborhood, doing there? According to researchers from the University of Antioquia in Colombia, there may have been a sizable population of comets in the main belt in the past that had long since “died,” their icy reserves nearly expended by heat and light from the sun. Some of these comets, however, were merely dormant, the researchers found, and if their orbits were nudged just slightly closer to the sun’s warming rays, it could release ice trapped deep within the comets, bringing them back to life. “Thus, we propose that the asteroidal belt contains an enormous graveyard of ancient dormant and extinct rocky comets, that turn on [are rejuvenated], in response to a diminution of their perihelion distance, caused by planetary perturbations.” A dozen such Lazarus comets were picked up among the asteroids over the past decade, and it’s quite possible there are many more out there, the researchers said. –LA Times
Planetary Break-up: “In 1978, I proposed a new theory that comets originated in the energetic breakup of a body orbiting the Sun in or near the present location of the asteroid belt in the relatively recent past…if comets did originate in a break-up event in the inner solar system, then the original distances of closest approach to the Sun for their orbits must all have been less than or equal to the distance at which the break-up occurred…Astronomer Oort always maintained that an origin of comets from within the solar system, perhaps in connection with the event which gave rise to the asteroid belt, was the most probable.” – Dark Matter, Missing Planet, New Comets, Tom Van Flanderen, pp. 185-191, 1991
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17 Responses to Comets found lurking closer to Earth than previously thought

  1. ernestisms says:

    Hi Alvin, what a timely article. I am currently reading Emmanuel Velikovsky’s “Worlds in Collision” and in it, he posits that at one time in the recent past (3500 years?) a planetary body impacted Jupiter and spawned a great comet that made several passes near Earth at both 750 BCE and 1500 BCE respectively and eventually lead to a great collision with Mars. This comet is known today as the planet Venus. Ironically, the European Space Agency earlier this year found that Venus has a “comet like atmosphere; its ionosphere — acts surprisingly different depending on daily changes in the sun’s weather. The side of Venus’ ionosphere that faces away from the sun can billow outward like the tail of a comet, while the side facing the star remains tightly compacted – See more at:” What many people are not taking into consideration is that not only are the planets within our solar system in constant motion but, our solar system itself is in constant motion…moving into the path of and away from cometary bodies that may not have been visible even a handful of years previous. In my opinion this makes the process of discovering these comets/asteroids/ brown dwarfs an exceedingly difficult task to say the least. Keep up the great work my friend!

    • I

      Thanks, Ernestisms. Velikovsky asked some very intriguing questions about a great cataclysm that appeared to have occurred in the early history of the solar system which disintegrated many celestial bodies and rearranged the orbits of some planets and moons. What we’re left with now is the chaotic elliptical orbits of planets around a near perfect circular orbit of the one planet who appears to have survived the upheaval, dramatically changed, but, as a life system, was left relatively unscathed- Earth.

      all the best,

  2. If the “graveyard of comets” have been coming back to life through the rays of the sun, and is a scientifical natural process, is it the same process that happens upon earth in the Alaska-Antartica, and their Volcanoes-Tsunamies ‘ régions, where the ice is melting by the same belt of sun’s rays….?….Is it the Solar System in the Space…Is it the Solar System down upon the Earth?….

    Mary Cassin Medelman Edelman

    • P

      Which is why there has to be more at work here than just the properties of the sun’s rays sublimating ice. Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun, yet at the apogee of its elliptical orbit (43 million miles), temperatures plunge to -300 below zero F. So, how can the sun melt ice in the asteroid belt on dormant comets, located some 2.7 AU (251 million miles) from the Sun? Solar rays are certainly not a factor in perturbing cometary bodies in the alleged Oort cloud thought to lie some 50,000 AU from the Sun. Comets may have multiple delivery systems for kinetic activation: including gravity, cosmic radiation, and perhaps even electricity.


  3. Linda says:

    I watched your video of How the universe works: Clockwork and Creation. It was so good I forwarded it to others to watch. “This is how the Bible should be studied” I wrote to them.



  4. James says:

    R.I.P., Tom Van Flanderen. You were a great astrophysicist!

  5. Joseph t Repas says:

    I agree…and from what I have seen first hand with an asteroid is that there used to be a planet between Mars and Jupiter that got ripped apart or exploded. I wonder if that would have anything to do with the speculation that Mars was a rather inhabitable planet until some catastrophic event happened. It’s mind boggling!

  6. tonic says:

    Nothing within the asteroid belt has the capability to engage the apogee kick. As far as I know. Solar activity is falling. I know the asteroid belt is all about orbit. But the Sun is the powerhouse behind all, in the Solar System.

  7. Todd Marley says:

    Ancients describe that a Dwarf star on comet type orbit, collided with an existing planet, When this happened the fragments of the planet scattered but most tried to maintain the original direction of orbit of that planet….conservation of momentum. The large failed star then fragmented pieces but remained in tact, This created a stream of millions of fragments that maintained much of the momentum and general direction of the original star. On the way back out of the solar system this object on one of its orbits collided with a moon of Neptune and gave rise to the Oort cloud and Kuiper belt. This process has happened hundreds of thousand of times. The large object coming from south of ecliptic may caused all the inclines, Stole a moon from Neptune and re directed its orbit… ie Pluto. May have perturbed orbits of Uranus, Neptune to south declilnes, Reversed the direction of Uranus moon. Tilted one of Uranus moons on its side creating huge crack, Tilted Saturns axis and contributed to cataclysms on Mars, and explains perfectly the periodicity of Earth’s extinction patterns.

  8. Todd Marley says:

    Comets are streaming into our solar system! They are mirrored by fireballs.

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