Rogue killer comet could be heading for EARTH after mystery meteor shower seen
A NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN meteor shower could be a sign that a “potentially dangerous” comet poses a threat to the Earth, astronomers have warned.
Scientists at the SETI Institute, who usually search for evidence of alien life, have been desperately trying to track the source of the meteor shower seen over New Zealand, but have been unable to identify the comet responsible.
Meteor showers are caused by ice and dust debris falling from the trail of a comet as it passes our planet.
The meteor shower has been traced as coming from the direction of the southern sky Volans constellation.
The comets are known as Jupiter-friendly comets, because they linger near the planet due to the force Jupiter places on them. It means it should be prevented from leaving the inner edge of the outer solar system.
But the sighting suggests it is unusually heading our way on an unpredictable orbit.
The meteor shower, now named as the Volantids due to the direction it came from, was seen on New Years Eve, but details of the scientists’ concerns emerged this month after they remained at a loss to identify the comet.
The question of how it broke free from Jupiter’s force is puzzling experts.
One of the comet group called Shoemaker-Levy 9, actually crashed into Jupiter in 1995.
A strange, elongated shape of the Jupiter family comets, coupled with their often erratic orbits, makes them harder to identify.
The SETI Institute says any unknown comet would be “potentially dangerous”.
However, they caution all scenarios in the near future don’t seem to call for any sort of collision.