Kreutz Comets are Ultra-Fast Moving Objects: Can this Motion be Exploited?
William Gardiner firstname.lastname@example.org !twitter.com/WilliamWgardin1 Atlanta, GA Holger Isenberg email@example.com twitter.com/areoinfo areo.info Mountain View, CA 7th Interstellar Symposium Tucson, AZ Sep 25-27 2021 irg.space
Fastest Objects in the Solar System
Objects of the Kreutz Comet Family are observed approaching the Sun
near the same trajectory. Every 2 days on average, a new comet grazes
the Sun at a perihelion which is well below the 1.8 solar radii Roche limit.
Let's use the term Kreutz Stream instead as no other comet group is
known for such a high frequency.
Velocity comparison, sunward radial component:
•Voyager 1 near Earth: 6 km/s
•Kreutz Stream at Earth orbit distance: 42 km/s
•Kreutz Stream at perihelion: 480—600 km/s (0.2% c)
•Escape from Sun at surface: 617 km/s
•Escape from Galaxy at outer solar system: 550 km/s
Curiosity: The Solar Wind not only increases in speed with distance from
the Sun, but also asymptotically approaches a maximum which coincides
with the gravitational solar surface escape velocity (Fig.2) although the
driving forces are different.
Sunwards Stream of Matter
This image is a
from an animation
showing all Kreutz
Comets seen by
cameras on the
Most of the
are smaller than
100m in diameter.
Constant Stream since Historic Times?
Since detailed daily observation is possible by the SOHO spacecraft
activated in 1996, the frequency of the stream hasn't changed.
Much farther back in time reaches a possible historic visualization, literally
set in stone, at the Hathor Temple in Dendera, Egypt:
Two ceiling reliefs show a stream, composed of small triangles, which can
be interpreted as indicator for a sunward direction. The location of the
crab symbol hiding from all other celestial objects behind the Sun can be
interpreted as indication for the yearly zodiacal season of Cancer which
correlates with the heliacal rising of Sirius at the temple location's latitude
today and also already 2000 years ago.
Sirius is located near the Kreutz stream's visual point of origin.
Curiosity: Sirius culminates highest in the sky at every New Year’s
midnight, as it “resists” the precession of the equinoxes.
Was the intensity and magnitude of Kreutz Comets higher in the past,
allowing ancient Egyptians to see them as stream?
Today, only a few were visible without telescopes, most recently:
C/1965 S1 (Ikeya-Seki), C/2011 W3 (Lovejoy).
The direction-steady and
occurrence-reliable winds at
certain latitudes allowed for
global travel during the era
of the sailing ships. The ﬁrst
printed meteorological map
of those was published by
Edmond Halley in 1686, eponymous for the
famous comet as he predicted correctly in 1705
the comet’s return for the year 1758.
The northeast-originating winds near the
equatorial Atlantic are called Tradewinds, the
directly opposed ones north of the Tropic of
The Kreutz Stream is opposed in movement to the Solar Wind.
History of Crosswind Sailing
A "Solar Barque" course bearing is not limited by the Solar Wind direction
because traveling perpendicular to the wind is possible if a keel can be
created bracing into another medium to counteract drift. Refer to Jeffrey
Greason's presentation about Shear Sailing at this conference.
For those efﬁcient advanced Solar
Sailing concepts, the key component is
the keel. Dominique Görlitz discovered
on ancient drawings that leeboards on
prehistoric ﬂoats and reed boats were
used, which allowed for usable
degrees of crosswind sailing and
tacking. That means, long before the
Viking Dragon Boats appeared, the
ancients have been capable of ocean
crossings in both directions.
Görlitz and his crew proved his hypothesis in 2007 by sailing the Abora III,
a Totora Reed boat, 2800km from New York in the direction of the Azores.
Origin of the Stream
Kreutz comets as a group follow similar but
not exactly identical trajectories. The
difference of 5° and more for angular orbit
parameters spreads too widely to allow for
a single large fragmented object as source.
Sekanina proposes a new model as origin
after having determined 9 different
trajectory groups over 193 selected Kreutz
objects seen over 13 years (Fig 12).
only adds an intermediate layer of
complexity by introducing a two step
disintegration of a single contact-
binary progenitor. However, the
observation of at least 9 slightly
different trajectories could contribute
to solving the mystery of the origin.
The main argument against a single
object origin from a circular orbit in
the Oort Cloud is the required energy
to change from that orbit into the highly eccentric elliptical known Kreutz
orbit with the perihelion almost at the solar surface.
About correction factors needed for previous models:
The magnitude of the needed acceleration — assumed to be driven
by the sublimation of water ice — was enormous, ranging [...] from
1.7% to 85% of the Sun’s gravitational acceleration!
Our hypothesis is that the Kreutz comets originate from a plasma stream,
then condense as individual objects. The rules of electricity govern their
initial impulse energy to fall towards the Sun and is sufﬁcient to explain
their high speed. Fig.13 shows a plasma stream.
Energy in the Plasma Boundary Layer
The boundary layer between two diametrical opposed winds is
interesting to tap into for propulsive use in general. In the case of the
Kreutz Stream, not only the high speed difference between the opposing
direction of the Solar Wind and each incoming Kreutz object would be a
good energy source, but also its invariance with the solar distance is
peculiar. The speed difference between a Kreutz Stream object and the
local Solar wind is a constant of 700 km/s (Fig.2). Dynamic Soaring as
known from seabirds makes use of that energy in the boundary layer
above the wavy ocean surface. See Andrew Higgins' presentation at this
conference on this topic.
From the Ice Age
to Plasma Jets
According to the conventional theory,
comets were considered to be dusty ice
balls. But all 5 cometary explorer
missions since Giotto in 1985 showed a
dark rocky surface without any visible
ice. The bright features are electrically
excited dusty plasmas.
Travel into the Future
with 0.2% Lightspeed!
A trajectory reaching gravitationally 0.2% lightspeed
below 1 solar radius distance from the surface of the
Sun, comparable to the Kreutz Stream, was already
noticed by SciFi authors. For example in Star Trek
episode Tomorrow is Yesterday this additional
acceleration propels the Starship Enterprise through
In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the same maneuver
is used again, this time to appease a space probe
broadcasting humpback whale sounds. In December
2004, the Voyager I probe carrying a golden record
with whale sounds reached the heliopause at 94 AU.
Summary Observations of Kreutz Comets
• constant group of trajectories and high matter density,
2 objects/day average since 1996 (SOHO)
• possible extension of constancy back into historic times
• constant 700 km/s velocity difference (solar-distance invariant)
between stream and Solar Wind
• narrow-angle 1° focussed 9 “channels” within the stream
• visual line of sight of stream origin points to a nearby star (Sirius)
• The Kreutz comets require a continuous and highly focussed energy
source to sustain the stream.
• We propose to emulate the processes a Kreutz comet undergoes with
• Speculatively, we envision the hypothesized plasma stream as a
constant and focussed energy stream whose sources of energy are
other than gravitational, thermal and collisional, that is: electrical.
• Where is the starting point? Really an orbit extending 100 AU
beyond the heliosphere or a unidirectional stream,
either much farther away or much closer?
• Is the stream moving with the precession of the equinoxes
or not (like Sirius)?
• How to “tap" into the energy of the high velocities?
• Can this stream be studied inside existing Solar plasma laboratory
experiments, such as SAFIRE or the Parker Spiral Laboratory Model?
• Observations from NASA Parker Solar Probe (active)
• Observations from ESA Solar Orbiter (active)
• ESA Comet Interceptor (planned for 2029)
A large Kreutz Comet Fig.1
SOHO/LASCO C2, Oct 10 2011
L1, 1.5Mkm from Earth
Square relief, a central room Fig.5
Wabet Room (Per-Wer)
Long relief, entrance hall Fig.6
The full relief, a rectangular Zodiac, shows
all objects in the sky the ancients knew:
5 planets, Sun, Moon,“Flower-Snake”,
12 zodiac constellations.
This photo is licensed from iStock by authors.
additional photos from Dendera: paulsmit.smugmug.com/Features/Africa/Egypt-Dendera-temple
Dominique Görlitz’ Abora III Fig.11
with Leeboards deployed
9 Kreutz “channels" Fig.12
Comets sorted by orbital elements,
Zdenek Sekanina 2021
Solar Wind speed at Solar Maximum (L) and Minimum (R) Fig.3
Evolution of the Solar Wind Speed with Heliocentric Distance and Solar Cycle
Surprises from Ulysses and Unexpectedness from Observations of the Solar Corona.
Khabarova, Obridkoa, Kislova, Malovab, Bemporadd,Zelenyib, Kuznetsova, Kharshiladzea
Plasma Physics Reports, 2018, https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2018PlPhR..44..840K
Map in Halley’s 1686 book Fig.9
Permanent wind belts Fig.10
"Slingshot Effect” Fig.15
in Star Trek:
Tomorrow is Yesterday
Star Trek is a registered trademark of
CBS Corporation since 1966.
TV screenshots from Star Trek, 2007 remastered,
Arch of the Milky Way, origin of the Nut metaphor Fig.7
Bruno Gilli/ESO 2009
Omnidirectional standard Sun icon Fig.8
Comet 67P as seen by Rosetta Fig.14
Speed: Solar Wind vs Comet. Fig.2
based on: G.H. Jones et al: Science of Sungrazers, Sunskirters,
and Other Near-Sun Comets. Dec 18, 2017
Plasma Stream in Globe Fig.13
Photo licensed from Depositphotos by authors
Kreutz Comets (Red) Fig.4
2000 comets observed by SOHO between 1998 and 2010, visualized as
animation by Karl Battams and Tom Bridgman, Naval Research Lab