Major Cryovolcanic Eruption on a Comet

Posted: November 27, 2022 by oldbrew in Astrophysics, News, solar system dynamics

One of an average 7.3 outbursts a year according to Wikipedia.

Nov. 25, 2022: The British Astronomical Association (BAA) is reporting a new outburst of cryovolcanic comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann. On Nov. 22nd, the comet’s nucleus suddenly brightened by more than 4 magnitudes–a sign that a major eruption was underway. Cryomagmatic debris is now expanding in a shell shaped like Pac-Man:

Cai Stoddard-Jones took the picture on Nov. 23rd using the Faulkes Telescope North in Hawaii. At the time, the shell was already more than 100,000 km in diameter.

The Pac-Man shape of the ejecta shows that this is not a uniform global eruption. Instead, it is coming from one or more discrete sources on the comet’s surface.

This fits a leading model of the comet developed by Dr. Richard Miles of the British Astronomical Association. Miles believes that 29P is festooned with ice volcanoes. There is no lava. The “magma” is a cold mixture of liquid hydrocarbons (e.g., CH4, C2H4, C2H6 and…

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  1. Damian says:

    The triangle missing from the coma looks more like a shadow cast by the nucleus.

  2. oldbrew says:

    The “magma” is a cold mixture of liquid hydrocarbons (e.g., CH4…)

    CH4 is methane = natural gas. Did/do comets have dead forests, plants etc. to make *fossil* fuel? 😐

  3. oldbrew says:


    The British Astronomical Association just reported another strong cryovolcanic outburst–the second in less than a week–pushing the comet’s integrated brightness up to 12th magnitude.
    . . .
    “You don’t need a 2.2 meter telescope on a volcano in the Pacific to witness this phenomenon–a regular telescope works just fine”

  4. oldbrew says:

    Anywhere can have ‘non-fossil’ methane, even Earth…

    NOVEMBER 28, 2022
    What may be the largest source of abiotic methane gas on Earth
    by Science China Press

    Methane (CH4), the chief constituent of natural gas, is one of the most widely used “clean” fuels. Although methane is usually considered to originate from organic matter, recently, more and more evidence shows that methane can be produced by abiotic processes.

    In a recent paper published in National Science Review (NSR), Professor Lifei Zhang’s team from Peking University demonstrated that large amounts of methane gas can form during prograde metamorphism in a cold subduction zone, evidenced by the massive CH4-rich fluid inclusions in eclogites from Western Tianshan, China.

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