by Don Carros
18 May, 1999
First a recap.
In November of 1996 there was a report by Dr. Courtney Brown of the Farsight Institute of an object accompanying the comet Hale-Bopp. According to Dr. Brown a series of images taken by a top ten astronomer clearly showed that object. A copy of one of the images was received by Courtney and shared with Art Bell. The astronomer according to Courtney promised to come forward within weeks with a formal announcement.
The astronomer that allegedly took the photo never came forward as promised. Art Bell released the photo on his Web page. An astronomer, Dr. David Tholen from the University of Hawaii claimed that the photo was a fraud. According to Dr. Tholen and a research associate Dr. Oliver Hainaut the photo was an altered version of his photo taken on August 31, 1995.
The full weight of the world press came down on Dr Brown (Farsight) and Prudence Calabrese alleging a co-conspiracy of fraud and deception. The bulk of the charges coming from Drs. Tholen and Hainaut. Both Dr. Brown and Prudence Calabrese have paid dearly for their participation in the "companion" story. But as the Millennium Group has already shown, THEY WERE RIGHT!
And now for the rest of the story...............
First, the original photo posted by Dr Tholen was itself an artificial creation. It was generated from three (3) separate images taken within minutes of one another. They were superimposed and altered to get the stars to match by an associate Dr. Richard Wainscoat.
The original FITS images never came out until after the fraud charges were made. These too were NOT readable until challenged by the Millennium Group in late 1997. So in fact NO actual proof was ever offered until the story safely blew over.
One part of the story never disclosed before is that Dr Tholen was the "sole observer" at the UofH 2.2 Meter telescope for the entire evening. As of this writing NO additional images taken by Dr Tholen from that evening have ever been offered. Was there something there? In fairness, NO high resolution images were ever offered by the Hubble Space Telescope or any of the large 3.0+ meter observatories in this country. It has remained this way for over 2 years.
What happened next suggests that there was a fraud and cover-up and that the alleged perpetrators Dr Brown and Ms Calabrese were themselves the victims. The extent of the fraud potentially reaching beyond the astronomical community is still under investigation by The Millennium Group.
Here is what we do know. The comet remained visible in the northern hemisphere for a short time after perihelion after which time it was visible only from the southern hemisphere. Dr Hainaut left the UofH in 1997 to go to La Silla, Chile to the European Southern Observatory. The comet would still be visible from there.
In 1998, The Millennium Group reported that Dr Zdenek Sekanina, a senior research astronomer at JPL, confirmed the presence of a "companion" object accompanying the comet "Hale-Bopp". This announcement was made at the February conference at Tenerif on the Canary Islands. During that meeting Dr Richard West European Southern Observatory (ESO) also announced that observers at the ESO in Chile were confirming Dr Sekaninas work.
Now we have the following from:
"abstract of article submitted to A&A, 1999. "
"Adaptive optics observations of the innermost coma of comet Hale-Bopp. Are there a Hale and a Bopp?"
F. Marchis, H. Boehnhardt, O. Hainaut, D. Le Mignant (ESO)
Comet C/1995 O1 Hale-Bopp was observed with the adaptive optics system ADONIS on the ESO 3.6 m telescope at La Silla Chile, through the broadband J, H, K, SK (Short K) filters on 6 November 1997 and 15 January 1998. After the image processing by different restoration techniques, the maximum brightness in the coma appeared as a double peak. The separation between the two components was 0.23'' in November 1997 and 0.36'' in January 1998. Furthermore, broad jet features were traced in our images of the inner coma. While lightshift effects could be excluded, dust knots in near-nucleus jets could explain the observed double peak. Nevertheless, an attractive scenario is that the comet actually has a double nucleus, which could even be a gravitationally bound. The presence of jets with opposite curvatures, as observed in Hale-Bopp's coma on 22 January 1998, at optical wavelengths, provides additional support for the binary-nucleus interpretation. Indeed such features are difficult to explain by a single rotating nucleus, but they would be easily understood if two nuclei were involved. The pros and cons of these two scenarios are discussed, but no final conclusion on the validity of either of them is possible on the basis of the available observations by our and other groups."
Ollie Hainaut MUST have known what he was going to be doing at La Silla in 1997. As you can see from the above abstract the La Silla "companion" photo was taken in November 1997. That means he (Dr Hanaiut) most likely had prior knowledge that there was a "companion" object during the time that both he and Dr Tholen were accusing Brown and Calabrese of "fraud".
There is also a possibility that this too is an intentional deflection of the truth. One of the authors of the above abstract and owner of the host site referenced is Franck Marchis. During the period when the ESO images of the "companion" were taken Marchis was stationed at La Silla as a member of the French Military.
Remember Dr Sekanina, stated in his original presentation and in a subsequent paper published later that year that the "companion" could NOT be visible from earth based observatories. Plus Dr Sekanina, predicted that the "companion" would detach from the comet at or near perihelion. This in fact could be true. However, it conflicts with the work at ESO.
The likelihood is that this is more than just coincidence. The Dr Tholen composite image was compiled from a series of shots taken by him on August 31, 1995. La Silla was also observing the comet that same evening. Coincidence?
In August of 1997, Dr Tholen received a "new" NASA grant some five months after the fiasco. Was this a reward for a job well done or more coincidence?
A big question asked by many was, If there was a conspiracy to withhold information how could this be coordinated among so many independent observers? Remember the biggest observatories were and continue to this day to remain silent regarding Hale-Bopp observations. Only the biggest observatories had a chance at resolving detail in the comets nuclear images. In this country 3.0+ Meter observatories are under contract to NASA or owned an operated by the US Military. The Hubble Space Telescope is under the control of NASA.
All NASA grants including those to the University of Hawaii carry a "national security clause" Section 1260.30 that requires NASA contract officers to be informed if national security interests are invoked. Could this be the method?
"Richard West at ESO also noted that Olivier Lardiere, J.C. Merlin, and S. Garro, have, on May 8, noticed some rapid changes in the inner coma.... On May 8, 1997, a huge concentration of dust is ejected from the nucleus toward the anti-solar direction. The speed of ejection is very high. 24 hours after the ejection, the dust spreads on over 50,000 km from the nucleus. This dust ejection does not appear at each nucleus rotation, so it's certainly a unique phenomenon. Note the rapid expansion of the curved jet (in the direction of the sun). On May 9, this jet is twice longer than on May 7."
Sound familiar? The last two lines of the quote from Dr West are important. Hale-Bopp never acted predictably. The Millennium Group announced the discovery of the "Orca" which is believed to be a remnant of Hale-Bopp that entered a solar orbit in May-June 1998. This is also consistent with Dr Sekaninas original work, "....the orbit should become unstable and the object would drift away from the main nucleus after perihelion, contrary to observation."
Was Dr Sekanina predicting another effort to deflect the truth? Why was he predicting this "contrary to observation"? The Orcas periodic appearance coincides with SOHO/LASCO system failures. Again, it appears someone does NOT want us to see what's there.
The Orca is important because it came into the solar system at an angle roughly perpendicular to the ecliptic much like Hale-Bopp. This is NOT a region where one usually finds comets or asteroids.
>From a July 1, 1998 press release from the University of Hawaii:
"University of Hawaii astronomers have discovered a new type of asteroid, whose orbits lie completely within the orbit of the Earth.
Previously, all known asteroids traveled in an orbit farther from the Sun than the Earth, over at least a portion of their journey."
"All other efforts to discover asteroids on a collision course with the Earth are being directed at a region of the sky almost opposite the Sun," said David Tholen, planetary astronomer at the Institute for Astronomy.
The significance of this discovery is that we would have otherwise never found this new asteroid because it apparently doesn't travel to that region of the sky being scanned by other search efforts."
What prompted Dr. Tholen to look for objects were none have been seen before? Why a formal announcement on July 1, 1998? SOHO/LASCO went down on June 24th, 1998 after siting the Orca. Was this to be the explanation for yet another object we were not supposed to see? The original work done at UofH leading to the discovery of the asteroid 1998 DK36, was done in early 1997 just before Dr Tholen received his latest NASA grant. Coincidence?