Neanderthal Comet: Solar Wind Broke Its Tail, What Will Happen Now? (Video)


Neanderthal Comet: Solar Wind Broke Its Tail, What Will Happen Now? (Video)

Who knows if 50,000 years ago the Neanderthal hominids noticed the passage of a comet.
The fact is that in the coming weeks, that same comet will cross the skies of Italy and the entire northern hemisphere.

We are talking about C/2022 E3 ZTFcomet discovered the March 2, 2022. For its long revolution around the Sun, it has been nicknamed “Neanderthal comet and will soon be visible even to the naked eye.
The comet can actually already be observed through binoculars or telescopes and fans of the universe are competing to see who takes the most spectacular photo. The comet has one sparkling green foliagecombed by the solar wind and a splendid tail of yellowish dust and a smaller one, of ions, of blue color.

Today’s news is that the exuberant activity of the sun has hurled a stream of electrically charged particles towards the comet. A real mass ejection from the solar corona (the outermost part of our star) which in fact has snapped the comet’s splendid tail in two. This phenomenon is called “disconnection” and is due to the solar wind.
What will happen now?

Practically nothing, the comet will continue to light up more and more until it reaches naked eye visibility between February 1 and 2, which is when it will reach the closest point to the earth.

But let’s see some data on this fascinating space object, coming from the distant Oort cloud (the forge of comets).
The C/2022 E3 ZTF, as also reported by the agency Handle has reached the perihelioni.e. the minimum distance from the sunthe January 12th.
On the occasion of this event there was also a live video from 5 (4 UTC) on Saturday 14 January.

Between 1 and 2 February 2023 the Comet will instead be at the minimum distance from the Earthabout 42 million km and will always be clearly visible in the northern skies as it will have become circumpolar.
Last December 5th it was observed at +8.8 with an increase of 1.4 magnitudes from the last month and it is expected to reach the magnitude of +5 in February 2023 (remember that the limit of observability with the naked eye is magnitude 6).
In January it will pass through the constellation Corona Borealis and will be visible in the second part of the night.

Can it really be seen with the naked eye?
This question was asked to the astrophysicist Gianluca Masi who thus replied: “It will perhaps be marginally visible to the naked eye – he explained – at best, we will be able to notice it as a faint wad of light only by observing from really dark skies, without the contamination of light pollution and, above all, the absence of the Moon. For the last part of January it will be better to look for it at dawn, the comet is moving between the stars of Bootes and the Dragon, then it will creep between the Bears, Major and Minor to then move more to the center of our sky. At the moment it is a binocular object, if there is visibility with the naked eye it will be very modest, so much so that I sincerely recommend using at least binoculars“.

But you know, comets are very unpredictable objects, and this too could give us a truly unexpected show.


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