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Elenin is a new comet, this is the first time it has dropped in to the inner solar system from the Oort Cloud. New comets generally are bright early than drop off quickly as their surface ices are depleted. Older comets tend to be brighter due to fissures and cracks penetrating more deeply into the comet allowing more volatiles to be accessed.
What does it mean for the future? Comets, despite the images of them that look like asteroids, and quite fragile, loose agglomerations of dust and ices smeared together. It has already been suggested that Elenein will not survive perihelion. This recent dimming of Elenin suggests it may be sufficiently fragile to evaporate as it passes close to the Sun, astromomers will be watching this samll but cute comet as it plunges towards perihelion for more clues about the structyure and dynamics of comets.
Originally posted by sir_slide
reply to post by Molimo
But if it disintegrates then isn't it kind of not dangerous? You know, because its disintegrated....?
Wasn't there a theory that it was a cluster anyway?