Smoke Linked to Gun: Napier upheld by Nesvorný and Jenniskens on Zodiacal Cloud and short-period Comets

Richard Kerr, the oldest rat in the barn over at Tusk competitor Science Magazine, has written a disturbingly matter-of-fact piece reporting the myth busting work of David Nesvorný and Peter Jenniskens (hereafter N&J) on the source of Interplanetary Dust and the Zodiacal Cloud. N&J are the same fellows who last month deduced massive ancient meteoritic airburts in Antarctica from ice trapped micro-meteoroids (though Kerr makes no effort to tell us so here).

Their new paper which prompted Kerr’s article, COMETARY ORIGIN OF THE ZODIACAL CLOUD AND CARBONACEOUS MICROMETEORITES IMPLICATIONS FOR HOT DEBRIS DISKS, once more vindicates Bill Napier and his merry band of British and Irish Neo-Catastrophists. And the Younger Dryas Boundary Team. And Plato. Hell, Napier summed up these conclusions in print just last month, having reached them years ago.  (If any commentors are brave enough to parse the approach of Napier and the approach of N&J please do)

Anyway, said busted myth is that the Zodiacal Cloud has anything to do, as long taught, with asteroids banging off each other in the asteroid belt.  Nope, it is rather a result of comets.  And not comets sublimating as they approach the sun, but rather comets shattering into ever and ever smaller pieces.  Breaking up as we see with the approaching comet Schwassmann Wachmann, SW3.

Richard Kerr (Science Magazine)

This is revolutionary.  And that is what bugs me.  You would never know it reading Kerr’s article.  Richard Kerr of Science knows a lot of things and has been around a long time.  So he should know better than to write such a story without some elucidation of its implications.

So, if I may:  It means there are a lot of  big — or one big — short period comets missing from our impact frequency statistics.  It suggests that a lot more cometary material has entered the inner solar system in the last tens of thousands of years and simply broken apart, as with Biela’s Comet in just the last century.  It is the smoke from the gun — and gun is still loaded.

The longer these old-guard pontificators of science like Richard Kerr ignore the implications — if not the evidence itself — of the danger of disintegrating short period comets, the more determined the Tusk becomes to post and post and post and post….

Previous studies had suggested that much of the zodiacal light came from the dust of colliding asteroids, but the only way this model could reproduce the great breadth of the zodiacal cloud above and below the plane of the planets was to have the dust come from the comets that orbit in the vicinity of Jupiter’s orbit. Those comets already range much farther from the plane of the planets than asteroids do, and Jupiter’s gravitational effects would drive their dust even farther afield. To make the modeled zodiacal cloud as dense as the real one, the dust had to come from comets falling apart, not just those shedding dust near the sun, the team reports in the 20 April issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

Researchers Solve Mystery of Zodiacal Cloud, Richard Kerr, Science Magazine, April 16, 2010