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Space Science

Comet Hale-Bopp 'Frozen To Death' 76

astroengine writes "In 1997, comet Hale-Bopp became the most spectacular space event of the past few decades. But where's the huge lump of ice now? Astronomers have decided to check in on the interplanetary interloper to see how its journey is going after sweeping through the inner solar system 15 years ago. Now beyond the orbit of Neptune, Hale-Bopp has undergone a dramatic change. As it travels further from the sun, inevitably its surface receives less heat, and now the comet appears to have reached a watershed: it has ceased all cometary activity, in stark contrast to only 3 years ago. The next time it will erupt to life will be in around 2,500 years when it completes its next solar flyby."
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Comet Hale-Bopp 'Frozen To Death'

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  • 2,500 years (Score:3, Funny)

    by ae1294 (1547521) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @01:11AM (#36007638) Journal

    Wow that's a long time to wait for the mothership to return... I might as well just end it all now. Drinking the flavor-aid and all...

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Tablizer (95088)

      Fav Hale-Bopp bumpersticker: "So many idiots, so few comets"

      • by tonique (1176513)

        Waiting for the next Kreutz sungrazer!


    • Re:2,500 years (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ShakaUVM (157947) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @01:32AM (#36007718) Homepage Journal

      Yeah. A friend of mine did the website for the realtor selling the property.

      Apparently even being a hilltop mansion isn't enough to get people to buy a place where a bunch of cultists in matching shoes all killed themselves.

      • If they want a tax write-off, I'm willing to accept a gift.

      • Generally, that is not the case. It is far more likely that the realtor set the asking price too high and that is what scared away potential buyers. Was this pre- or post- bubble? Was the realtor trying to capitalize on the celebrity of the location to extract a premium?

        • by ShakaUVM (157947)

          >>Generally, that is not the case. It is far more likely that the realtor set the asking price too high

          Generally what is not that case? Houses where people died often reduce the value of a house, and IIRC, realitors have to disclose anything like this when they sell it.

          When my friend built the website, I think it was listing at $700k, or about half the value of the mansion. Lemme see if I can dig up a link...

          Ok, so I guess it sold for $668k, and was worth 1.6M. http://www.rickross.com/reference/heaven [rickross.com]

          • I'm afraid you are mistaken. In 1999, when it was sold, it was worth $668k. The previous listing, and even the tax assessment are not relevant unless someone actually bought it at that price. The article you linked does not say what the cultists paid for the estate.

            Land and homes, and other items do not have a "worth." They have the price someone is willing to pay, and someone else is willing to accept.. If a transaction occurs, that it what it was worth. To those parties. At the time.

            The death of th

            • by ShakaUVM (157947)

              I'm afraid you are mistaken. What I said was that the Heavens Gate suicide reduced the value of the house.

              You said deaths don't reduce the value of the house.

              I said it sold for half market value.

              You responded with a meaningless tautology (the market value is whatever it sold for) ignoring the entire concept of appraisal, comps, and fair market value.

              • I'm glad you've learned the meaning of the word, "Tautology."

                However the issue was over this quote,

                Apparently even being a hilltop mansion isn't enough to get people to buy a place where a bunch of cultists in matching shoes all killed themselves.

                It is clear from the article that the house did sell. Just not for as much as the realtor originally expected and/or thought it was "worth." But the failure sell for a number of years was not because being a hilltop mansion isn't enough to get people to buy a place. It's just that it isn't enough to get people to buy at the price you were hoping for. There is always a price where land will sell. The f

                • by ShakaUVM (157947)

                  >>It's just that it isn't enough to get people to buy at the price you were hoping for.

                  There's a concept called "time on the market", which is why my friend was brought in to do the web site on it, as it wasn't selling, even at below fair market value.

                  Since maybe you're not from San Diego, in the late 90s properties in San Diego were very hot, and selling like hotcakes.

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        It wasn't on a "hilltop" really, at least not in the sense of having a great view or being a great place to land a space ship.

    • by Aelcyx (123258)

      Thank you for saying flavor-aid. This is what was drunk at Jonestown. Not Kool-aid. That was drunk at the Funkytown massacre. So many afro wigs...

      • by RockDoctor (15477)

        Not Kool-aid. That was drunk at the Funkytown massacre.

        Ah, that puts an entirely new light on the [CK]ool-aid jokes. And here I was thinking it was just a popular type of coloured/ flavoured water.

  • Woah woah woah (Score:1, Informative)

    by MrQuacker (1938262)
    2500 Years? I thought it came around every 70-80 or so.

    Are you really telling me that the glimpse I got at 10yrs old is it? I was really looking forward to round 2 in 50-60 years. :(

    • Re:Woah woah woah (Score:5, Informative)

      by Lord Crc (151920) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @01:15AM (#36007656)

      2500 Years? I thought it came around every 70-80 or so.

      You're probably thinking of Halley's comet [wikipedia.org].

    • sunovabitch. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comet_Hale-Bopp [wikipedia.org]

      Minneapolis public schools, this is an official fuck you. You liars.

      I was told it was discovered in the 1920's and that it came around every 70-80 years. Bastards.

    • Pretty sure you are thinking of Halley's comet.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comet_Hale-Bopp [wikipedia.org]

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halley's_Comet [wikipedia.org]
      • Indeed. It seems that I was taught the details of one comet, while having it called by another comets name.
  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @01:16AM (#36007658)

    "Frozen to death" doesn't usually foretell a return to life at some later date - maybe "suspended animation" would be a more apt term.

    • by nonguru (1777998) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @01:26AM (#36007692)
      I would have thought "chilling out" would be more appropriate.
      • i want what you smoke!
      • by ByOhTek (1181381)

        Not really, when you chill out, you usually don't run so fast.

        Speaking of fast, if we could place some observational equipment on such a comet, that might be an interesting way to get some nice extra-solar observations. The landing/impact on the comet, could provide the delta-p needed to get it into a fast orbit out, with less fuel, if the comet survived.

    • by Nephrite (82592)

      Yellow science journalism.

    • Frozen to life would be more appropriate. It's no longer having its constituent material stripped away by the Sun - meaning that it is no longer being boiled away into nothingness, or to use their metaphor, no longer being roasted to death. It gets a 2500 year respite before the Sun starts killing it again...
    • by ClubStew (113954)
      But the cultists probably froze to death...err, re-death.
    • by ic3p1ck (597610)

      "That is not dead which can eternal lie..."

      HP Lovecraft

  • News? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kamapuaa (555446) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @02:07AM (#36007830) Homepage

    A comet doing exactly what everybody knows it would do is not exactly news.

    Future Slashdot headlines?

    Moon still orbiting.
    Sun still hot.
    Rings still around Saturn.
    Timothy posting stupid stories.

    • People still complaining about stories.

      Judging by the Firehose... there really isn't much to choose from... I'd cringe trying to justify my reasoning picking any of the stories I see there right now.

    • by ACE209 (1067276)
      you got a point there.
    • by Canazza (1428553)

      It's not that bad. We now know from the story it'll probably take 2000 years to pass around again, when previous estimates had it come back in 2020.

    • by MBGMorden (803437)

      It's not in the what, it's in the when. Every person that lives on this Earth will die - everyone knows that. However, when any person of note dies it's still news, because it is a recent occurrence.

      This is the same. People knew Hale-Bopp would cease cometary activity. Doesn't change the fact that since it happened NOW, it's news. Take it for what it is.

    • Rings still around Saturn.

      Actually about that...um yeah... [slashdot.org]

    • A comet doing exactly what everybody knows it would do is not exactly news.

      How gloriously incurious you seem to be. I thought it was interesting: "Hey, remember that cool comet you watched from a rooftop with a bunch of your friends? It's gone back to sleep for about as long as modern civilization has been around." I feel kind of bad for you that you don't see the wonder in that.

    • by flowwolf (1824892)

      How is pointing this out insightful? Its because of the 6 digits isn't it?

      This is news to somebody. Nerds perhaps. Isn't that what slashdot is about? Noteworthy events that nerds might find interesting?

  • 1 April 1997: Hale-Bopp passes perihelion.

    2(?) April 1997: Discoverer Bopp discovers his brother and sister-in-law have died in a road accident after photographing the comet.

    15 April 1997: MMMBop released by girl band Hansen.

    16 April-December 1997. My eyes remain especially open (OK, it disappeared from the Northern Hemisphere PoV much sooner); my ears especially closed.

    This is how my mind works.

    Amateur astronomers are cool. Thanks for discovering the comet, Thomas Bopp. Thopp.

  • by taiwanjohn (103839) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @03:22AM (#36008084)

    Must'a forgot his sweat pants and Nikes.

  • My condolences for those basement dwellers that missed their chance for a magic comet ride [themadmusicarchive.com].

  • Can't wait to see it again next time around!

  • by pigiron (104729)
    that's how comets work. Good job staying awake in your 5th grade science class.
  • Either they burn up "quickly" or they have orbits that allow them to refreeze which slows down their inevitable evaporation down to a few rocky bits and pieces.

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!