TRAGIC! Comet Leonard death announced; it visited Earth recently, then THIS happened | Tech News

TRAGIC! Comet Leonard death announced; it visited Earth recently, then THIS happened

Comet Leonard, the brightest comet to visit Earth in 2021 is DEAD. Find out what caused Comet Leonard death and how this famous comet met its tragic end.

| Updated on: Aug 22 2022, 10:52 IST
Leonard Comet
When Comet Leonard visited the Earth in 2021, everyone got their camera and telescope out to take a look at it. Sadly, that will never happen again. Check out why. (NASA)

Comet Leonard will never visit Earth again. In December 2021, the night sky over Earth had a particularly shiny guest come visiting. It was a dazzling spectacle! This comet was so bright that it even outshined Venus, one of the brightest celestial bodies visible at night. This comet, named C/2021 A1 or Comet Leonard and discovered by GJ Leonard delighted many astronomers and enthusiasts alike as they gazed at it flying across the sky. However, it appears that the beloved comet is no more! Yes, Comet Leonard death has been announced. The blame for Comet Leonard death has been laid squarely on our Sun. It has apparently disintegrated into smaller pieces as it came near the Sun. Read on to find out the reason behind Comet Leonard's death.

On March 23, 2022, EarthSky reported that the comet Leonard disintegrated after its perihelion on Jan 3, 2022. Perihelion is the point in the orbit of a planet, asteroid, or comet at which it is closest to the Sun. Observations have revealed that after it started moving away from the Sun, it was missing its nucleus (core) and the coma (temporary atmosphere). The remnants of the comet are still moving and are visible in the morning sky in the Earth's southern hemisphere. The legacy of Comet Leonard The discoverer, G.J. Leonard talked about the legacy of the beloved Comet Leonard in an email shared with EarthSky and said, “C/2021 A1's legacy will likely be the spectacular outburst-induced displays of its ion tail structures. Otherworldly and astonishing are the only descriptions that come to mind when I began viewing the images being posted online by a handful of dedicated expert astrophotographers, particularly after December 19, 2021, when the comet began undergoing strong periodic outburst activity”. How did the Comet Leonard disintegrate The Comet Leonard, like most comets is made majorly out of ice and rocky structures. Although the comet was within the threshold of the Bortle limit. The Bortle limit is a scale of brightness suggested by John Bortle in 1991, which says that the closer the comet gets to the Sun, the brighter it must be to survive the journey. However, comets are very unpredictable and in the weeks before its perihelion, the comet began showing unusual behavior. First, its brightness started changing every 3-5 days. Then, its tail started taking complex shapes, which was assumed due to pieces breaking from its body. Finally, the confirmation of its disintegration came on February 23. Its dimly lit tail still wanders in the path but is expected to be thrown off into interstellar space soon, never to be seen again.

The discoverer still remains optimistic and considers himself fortunate for the opportunity to witness the comet. “Comets, particularly those with extraordinary apparitions, somehow insist that we pause to admire their magnificence and mystery. I also appreciate that comets are reminders of the transient nature of … well nature, and all things. And of course, comets are full of surprises, reminding us that we humans are not in control,” said Leonard.

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First Published Date: 24 Mar, 13:04 IST