Comet 17P/Holmes Explosion Felt on Earth?

I am asking the question if the explosion coming from Comet 17P/Holmes

registered on the solar data graphs and rippled the earth’s magnetic field as shown below for the 29th of October at the time of this posting.


See red spike above?

And this: 


See how the electron count started to dip?

Other graphs at the above web page show variations at this time as well.  I only saved the above two graphs as they appear now.  The solar wind speed was up over 600 km/s and is now dropping and I surely felt tired for a while.

There was this alert but there hasn’t been any solar activity to mention:

:Product: Geophysical Alert Message wwv.txt

:Issued: 2007 Oct 30 0003 UTC

# Prepared by the US Dept. of Commerce, NOAA, Space Weather Prediction Center
#          Geophysical Alert Message
Solar-terrestrial indices for 29 October follow.
Solar flux 67 and mid-latitude A-index 11.
The mid-latitude K-index at 0000 UTC on 30 October was 4 (50 nT).

Space weather for the past 24 hours has been minor.
Geomagnetic storms reaching the G1 level occurred.

No space weather storms are expected for the next 24 hours.

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7 Responses to Comet 17P/Holmes Explosion Felt on Earth?

  1. pollyann says:

    There’s that old saying — nothing exists in a vacuum. 🙂

  2. HandyScienceGuy says:

    i am skeptical as well, but remember that at the time immediatly before the explosion, Holmes’ coma was bigger than the sun. This made it the biggest object in the solar system. So i guess it possible that the exposion could have affected the earth’s magnetic field!

  3. pollyann says:

    That’s all fine and good but this comet had a massive explosion; the unseen force of which extended outward for who knows how many miles.

    P.S. I ilke your Hale-Bopp photo.

  4. Peter Nelson says:

    The solar wind is a stream of charged particles emananting from the sun at a variety of speeds, but the average speed is about 900,000 miles per hour. When they strike the Earth they interact with the Earth’s magnetic field.

    While it’s true that magnetic fields (or changes in a magnetic field) move at the speed of light, let’s not confuse magnetic fields with charged particles.

    In any case there is no plausible basis to assume that this little snowball of a comet even HAS a magnetic field (generally you need to have a molten core like the earth does to have a magnetic field). Likewise, there is no plausible energy source for a stream of charged particles from a comet coming toward us.

    Many comets develop an ionization tail moving AWAY from the sun as a result of being struck by the solar wind, as well as a dust tail tracking behind them from their orbital motion. Here’s a photo I took of hale-Bopp showing both:

    — The ionization tail is blue streaking going up and to the right, whereas the dust tail is the broad whitish swath to the right.

    Last night I took a photo of 17P/Holmes and put in on my blog:

  5. Ed says:

    No problemo – I’ve been loving this and taking a number of photos (I’ll be adding to it this evening – it looks great out). My blog is and I’ve got photos there.

  6. pollyann says:

    Thanks, Ed, I appreciate your taking the time to comment. I’m not sure what to think because there have been other times certain solar instruments registered solar activity but it did not coincide with what the sun was doing according to other data.

    I’m kind of a non-linear thinker to some extent which is what motivated me to ask the question I did. 🙂 Anyway, this comet has sparked a whole lot of interest and wonder and that is what I like about astronomy. There are some magnificent pictures of it to see. I was just outside looking at it with my Zeiss binocs and will be heading out again in a few minutes.

    Have you posted your pictures?

  7. Ed says:

    I’m going to register my vote as a skeptic on this. I’m not an expert (I just like taking pictures with my telescope), but it’s hard for me to imagine how this minor comet could have any kind of impact register here on earth. Comets are made up of dirt, ice and some other miscellaneous chemistry. To impact our magnetic field, one would expect that there would have to be some sort of large quantities of ferromagnetic or otherwise magnetically active substances involved. I mean this tiny comet that’s over 150 million miles away just couldn’t do anything like that. Also, as far as the solar wind is concerned, not only is the comet way outside of the plane of our orbit, it’s way further from the Sun than the Earth. That means the solar wind wouldn’t impact it until well after it had passed the Earth. I’m going to put in my vote for coincidence.

    Also, I just noticed you’re mentioning this about the 29th – the outgassing/brightening started on the 23rd/24th. I’m fairly certain that magnetism moves at nearly the speed of light so it’d be more like 14 minutes later, not 5-6 days.

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