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Taurid Swarm

24 May 2019

At https://phys.org/news/2019-05-potential-taurid-meteor-swarm.html …. a study by the University of Western Ontario has investigated the potential risk from Taurid meteor swarms. Do they pose an existential threat to the inhabitants of the Earth. The 1908 Tunguska explosion is considered a one in a thousand years event but the Taurid swarm, a dense cluster within the Taurid meteoroid stream and through which the Earth periodically passes, provides a possible reason for the one in a thousand year time scale. If the hypothetical might of the Taurid stream (a reference it seems to Clube and Napier et al) this heightens the possibility of a cluster of large impacts over a short period of time – the sort of thing envisaged around 2300BC by Moe Mandelkehr.

The study is at www.arxiv.org/abs/1905.01260 (arXiv1905.01260v1). It has been accepted for publication by Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronical Society and may see the light of day about the same time the Tall el-Hammam (Sodom) paper is published (or not very far away). They have simulated a number of 100m wide meteoroids and calculate their position every one thousand years. According to the authors the Earth will approach within 30,000,000 km of the centre of the Taurid stream this summer (in June) when they hope to have some time on the Hawaii telescope on the big hill.

The paper appears to have led to a post at http://spaceweather.com (24th May 2019) which claims we are in for a close encounter with the Taurid stream – in November 2032. In other words, it is essential to look at this year's approach of the stream in order to get some idea of what it harbours in readiness for 2032 (or any close approach in following years). Of course, it all depends if global warming doesn't get us before the Taurid swarm.

A cloud of debris from Comet Encke's break-up regularly provides earth based sky watchers with shooting star fireworks when its gravelly particles occasionally strike Earth's atmosphere. The reference to gravel, even pebbles, in relation to the Taurids, is intriguing as this has Biblical parallels. Some researchers, it seems, are beginning to think there is more to the Taurid stream than pebble sized particles, it continues. Something, shall we say, that could level a taiga forest in Siberia (a reference to Tunguska). Back tracking the trajectory of the impactor suggests it could have come from the Taurid swarm. Why would the swarm contain big rocks? It then refers back to the theory that a giant 100km comet fragmented in the inner solar system and produced a mixture of dust, gravels, and asteroid sized bodies that are still presently orbiting out there today. Comet Encke may be just one of the fragments – as originally suggested by Clube and Napier. In June 2019 powerful telescopes wil be trained on the swarm, looking for the big pieces of rock that might cause a threat at some point in the future.

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