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Originally posted by TomServo
There Is Another One. According to the 2 most recent images (around Dec 15 @ 1600), there is another object just to the right, and trailing the comet. Appears to be about the same distance behind as the other is ahead.
The comet nucleus of Lovejoy has been estimated to be between 100 and 200 meters in diameter.
At one point images showed a tiny fragment moving alongside the main mass. Had the comet split, or was it an undetected traveling companion? "Both — and neither," says SOHO scientist Karl Battams. He explains that it must be a piece of the parent body that fragmented long ago to create Comet Lovejoy and the thousands of other kamikaze objects known as Kreutz sungrazers.
"We are witnessing one of the most extraordinary events in cometary history," notes John Bortle, who has observed and studied these objects for more than 40 years. "The manner in which Comet Lovejoy is evolving is, to my knowledge, totally unique in the comet record. Its brilliant, starlike appearance this morning, when only at an extremely small heliocentric distance, harkens back once again to the reports of 'brilliant stars' being occasionally reported close to the Sun down through history."
“A comet will be seen in heaven – a star, that is, with a tail or appendage—and this apparition will signify destructions and tumults and hard strifes, and withholding of rains, and dryness of the Earth, and mighty battles, and the flowing of blood upon the Earth of the east, and from beyond the River Harbor it will reach to the very end of the west. And the just and the truly righteous will be oppressed and will suffer persecutions, and the house of prayer will be destroyed.” – Rigord of St. Denis 12th century