09 Sep 2008
Missing Link in Space

Researchers have discovered an unusual object, named ‘2008 KV42’, that orbits the Sun backwards at a 104 degree tilt. Study of this strange configuration may lead to understanding the origins of some comets. For example, it’s unclear how objects transition from the Oort Cloud to become comets such as Halley’s or Hale-Bopp.

The article “A ‘Missing Link’ In Space? Maybe Not, But A Backward-Orbiting Object May Provide A New Origin For Comets Anyway” opens with

“When scientific terms become part of the cultural fabric they often lose their meaning. Biology has had its share of modern misunderstandings with ‘evolution’ becoming colloquial rather than scientific, along with the general term ‘theory’, which today is used by anyone with a crackpot notion about particle physics, math or the end of the world due to a tunnel in Switzerland.”

and goes on to briefly discuss why “missing link” was used in the press release before getting into the scientific details.

I was also fascinated by the astronomical size of the title (112 characters) and URL (154 characters).

Oh, and one of the three comet groupings discussed are the “‘nearly isotropic’ comets (meaning they are come from all directions). These comets plunge in from the outer Oort cloud from ten-thousand times (or more) the distance from Sun to Earth. They have very large orbits, and cross inside of Jupiter’s orbit”. Perhaps I should have named my blog “Nearly Isotropic” since some people think I’m kinda spacey anyway.

image: Comet Hale-Bopp.jpg, Alex Krainov, Wikimedia Commons

Category: Sci-Tech
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