- Earth Is Now Approaching The Same ‘Meteor Swarm’ That Wiped-Out A Siberian Forest
by Jamie Carter, Contributor Science, https://www.forbes.com/
Our solar system is a dangerous place, and this month Earth inches closer to one of its riskier places, the “Taurid swarm” of meteors. It’s a theorized vast cloud of debris and possibly large objects, leftover from a massive comet’s disintegration, that is suspected of causing catastrophic collision events in the past. According to Western Meteor Physics Group’s data analysis, Earth is now approaching within 30,000,000 km of its center, the closest such encounter since 1975.
There is no imminent threat of bombardment by meteors for now, but astronomers want to know if it could be a problem, particularly when Earth passes directly through the meteor swarm in November 2032.
Why is Earth close to the ‘Taurid swarm’?
Earth passes relatively close to the Taurid swarm twice per year. The events produce the Beta Taurids meteor shower from June 5 to July 18, and then the North and South Taurids meteor showers in late October. These aren’t going to be dangerous events in 2019, but Earth’s closeness is critically important because our planet is predicted to pass directly through the “Taurid swarm” in November 2032. There are reasons to suggest that we need to be ready for something serious … meanwhile, the North and South Taurids in late October and early November could be worth watching for large fireballs.
What is the ‘Taurid swarm’?
The remnants of a comet. As Earth orbits the Sun, its orbital path often goes through dust and debris left by comets, with matter no bigger than a grain of sand busting into Earth’s atmosphere and burning up as “shooting stars”. Mostly, they’re harmless, but the Taurid swam is an exceptionally large cloud of debris, probably from Comet 2P/Encke, that scientists think may be responsible for some once-per-1,000-years catastrophic events on Earth. The Taurid complex-giant comet hypothesis proposes that a giant comet fragmented in the inner solar system, producing dust and small Near-Earth Objects (NEOs), including 2P/Encke and other asteroids, still present today. Among the observational evidence is increased “fireball” shooting star activity when Earth gets close to the “Taurid Swarm”, and increased impacts on the Moon.