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Brand-new meteor shower from ‘Christmas comet’ may appear over Earth for 1st time this week

A brand-new meteor shower may light up Earth’s skies on Dec. 12, arriving just before the peak of the colorful Geminid meteor shower, a new study suggests.

Meteor showers occur when meteoroids, or rocky particles from outer space, burn and glow upon entering Earth’s atmosphere. Most meteor showers come from debris streams of comets or asteroids crossing Earth’s orbit. In this regard, the new shower isn’t unique; it arises from the comet 46P/Wirtanen, a “Jupiter family” comet (meaning it orbits between the sun and Jupiter). But unlike other meteor-generating fragment streams, which stem from comets or asteroids that get overheated after coming too close to the sun, the debris stream intersecting Earth this week was created during an extra-close encounter with Jupiter 50-odd years ago.

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