According to NASA scientists the wimpy comet Elenin, which vaulted into the public spotlight as a so-called harbinger of doom, has met its own demise, and its remains won’t be back for 12,000 years. According to Don Yeomans of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., Elenin did as new comets passing close by the sun do about two percent of the time, it broke apart. Elenin’s remnants will also act as other broken-up comets act. They will trail along in a debris cloud that will follow a well-understood path out of the inner solar system. After that, we won’t see the scraps of comet Elenin around these parts for almost 12 millennia.
Yeomans called Elenin an “ex-comet,” one that should soon be forgotten. On September 10, comet Elenin flew within 45 million miles (72 million kilometers) of the sun and broke apart into pieces. By October, when the comet came within 22 million miles (35.4 million km) of Earth its nearest pass with our planet only a cloud of debris was visible in telescopes. Comet Elenin, C/2010 X1, first came to light last December, when sunlight reflecting off the small comet was detected by Russian astronomer Leonid Elenin of Lyubertsy, Russia.