I know that Halley's comet is seen from Earth every 76 years or so since a couple centuries. As it travels, and particularly when it comes near the sun, it loses some of its material (ice). Someday, all of this material will be exhausted and the comet will disappear (or explode I think).

Is there an estimation of how long the comet still have to live ?


2 Answers 2


This paper estimates "another 2300 close perihelion passages". Multiplied with around 76 years per period, we get roughly 175,000 years. That's probably only a very rough estimate.

If we take the estimated mass of $2.2\cdot 10^{17}g$ and divide it naively by the estimated 1910 mass loss of $2.8\cdot 10^{14}g$, we get just 786 periods or roughly 60,000 years.

Hence, after about 200,000 years the remnant of Halley's comet will probably ressemble an asteroid, if any.


To supplement Gerald's answer, which focuses on the physical survival of the comet, I'll note that the orbit is chaotic over a similar time period.

See Chaotic Dynamics of Comet 1P/Halley; Lyapunov Exponent and Survival Time Expectancy M. A. Muñoz-Gutiérrez, M. Reyes-Ruiz, B. Pichardo, arXiv:1409.7762, 2014

On average, it is unstable on a timescale of hundreds of thousands of years. The chaotic nature of Halley's present day orbit implies that a precise determination of its motion, at the level of the present day observational uncertainty, is difficult to predict on a timescale of approximately 100 years. Furthermore, we also find that the ejection of Halley from the solar system or its collision with another body could occur on a timescale as short as 10,000 years.


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