Comet 4p faye

Millions of celestial objects throng the Kuiper belt beyond Neptune. They are made up of dust, various gases and water. Trailing a blaze while travelling towards the sun, these objects are called comets. One such comet is the comet Faye. Originally a long–period comet, comet Faye was pushed into the inner solar plane. This deflection caused by the gravitational pull of Jupiter resulted into its transformation. It became a part of the Jupiter family of short–period comets. It is the fourth comet after Halley’s Comet, Comet Encke and Comet Biela to have a determined and definite orbital period.

Who discovered comet 4P/Faye?

Comet Faye was discovered by the French astronomer Hervé Faye of Royal Observatory, Paris on 23rd November, 1843. It was discovered near the star gamma Orionis in the constellation of Orion. Cloudy weather prevented Hervé Faye from confirming its presence until 25th November.  As the astronomer was the first to discover it, the comet was named comet Faye.

What were the observations made about this comet?

Observations made about comet 4P/Faye include:

  • The comet has passed perihelion one month prior to its discovery.
  • It appeared faint during its discovery apparition in November 1843.
  • It was discovered a day before its closest approach to the earth (0.79 AU).
  • The comet achieved its maximum brightness due to its close approach to the earth and was visible to the naked eye.
  • It had a distinct nucleus and exhibited a faint tail with an estimated tail length of about 11 arc minutes.  
What was the magnitude noted?

Comet 4P/Faye appeared faint on its discovery apparition. The apparition of November 1910 revealed a magnitude of about 10. Favourable apparition of 2006–07 revealed a magnitude of about 9.5 with maximum brightness. 

What is its perihelion distance?

The perihelion distance (nearest to the sun) of comet 4P/Faye in 1841 was about 1.81AU, which was later revised to 1.69 AU. Its aphelion distance (far from the sun) is noted at 6.026 AU.

What was the orbital period noted?

The orbital period of comet 4P/Faye is 6.58 years, which has been revised to about 7.43 years.

Did the comet reappear or was it recovered?

Comet 4P/Faye was recovered by astronomer James Challis of Cambridge, England on 28th November, 1850.

Did it encounter any other planet?

Comet 4P/ Faye had five close approaches with the earth and two close approaches with Jupiter in the 20th century.  However, according to certain predictions, comet 4P/Faye will make three close approaches to the earth and one close approach to Jupiter in the first half of the 21st century.

Is it expected to reappear?

The comet had last appeared on 29th May, 2014 and is expected to reappear on 8th September, 2021.

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