Questions tagged [comets]

Icy bodies that usually consist of methane, water, and other materials that originate from beyond the jovian planets, and occasionally fall into the inner solar system giving off a massive tail as material is boiled off.

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How do comets' nuclei stick together?

Comets are commonly called icy dust balls or dirty snowballs and as such rather light: Known comets have been estimated to have an average density of $0.6 {\rm g}/{\rm cm}^3$. Because of their low ...
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Do some comets spin? If so, how fast?

The GIF below is copied from my question earlier What might a CN filter be in the context of comet watching? Is it showing dust, or gas, or something else? where I'd said: In this post on the website ...
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What calculations show that Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 orbited Jupiter for several decades before its spectacular impact? (Chodas, Sekanina & Yeomans)

This answer to A moon in eccentric orbit dipping below Roche limit includes the following about Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 Here is a nice figure of its last passes: I looked up "fragment A" in ...
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Can a supernova or a close passing star create a transient sun gravity focus “habitable zone”?

This question was inspired by the previous question Would a black hole passing next to a star create a deadly focal point due to gravitational lensing?. I understand, as gravity also acts on light, ...
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The creation of comets

How are comet and meteors made, and what causes them to travel through space so fast? I have tried researching, but I decided this was the faster way.
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Why do we only have one major meteor shower from 3200 Phaethon?

When talking to my son about the Geminid meteor shower tonight, we read up on 3200 Phaethon, and were curious: why is there only one meteor shower from 3200 Phaethon, and not two? Given its orbit, ...
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Are falling evaporating bodies (FEBs) and exocomets the same thing? How does one know they're falling and evaporating?

Looking for a (short) list of comets with heliocentric escape velocity I stumbled upon Wikipedia's exocoments which like exoplanets, are bound to other stars. I should have been looking for "...
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Why would a planet form a cometlike tail under conditions of weaker rather than stronger solar wind?

This question is prompted by one posted on the worldbuilding stack exchange: https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/189701/could-this-planets-tail-be-visible I understand that the ionized ...
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What comet's tail did Earth pass through before Halley's?

This answer to Any record of the Earth passing through the tail (not trail) of a comet? mentions Earth passed through the tail of Halley's Comet in 1910. It caused a bit of a panic due to claims that ...
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What were they expecting to see when Halley's comet appeared in 1910?

This answer to Any record of the Earth passing through the tail (not trail) of a comet? mentions Earth passed through the tail of Halley's Comet in 1910. It caused a bit of a panic due to claims that ...
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Any record of the Earth passing through the tail (not trail) of a comet?

Discussion below the Space SE question How hard is it to fly through the tail of a comet? Has it been done? has led me to ask if there is any record of the Earth passing through the tail of a comet. ...
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Long-periodic sungrazers

I'm searching for long- and non-periodic sungrazing comets, like the Kirch comet of 1680 and the (meanwhile destroyed) Comet ISON. If you know a(ny) long-/non-periodic sungrazing comet(s), let me know ...
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Is there any known asteroid or comet whose path goes through the Earth?

Is there any known celestial body of at least 500 ft (150 m) diameter whose Minimum Orbit Intersection Distance (MOID) is within the Earth, meaning it's sure that it can impact the Earth? I know Comet ...
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Luminosity of Neowise

So, I have been trying to figure out the bolometric luminosity of the comet C/2020 F3 (Neowise) on the 22nd of June, 2020. At that time, Neowise was $1.4$ AU away from Earth and had an apparent ...
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I witnessed a steady stream of falling stars slowly falling one after another this morning. What was it? [duplicate]

This morning at 6:18am I witnessed a steady stream of falling stars that lasted at least 90 seconds from the time I noticed it. I live on a farm east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and the stars were ...
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Does Halley's Comet travel past the outer bounds of the Oort Cloud?

We know Halley's Comet returns every 75-76 years. We can reasonably compute its elliptical orbit. We know that the Oort Cloud is a cloud of predominantly icy planetesimals proposed to surround the Sun ...
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What is the difference between a depleted comet and an asteroid?

When a periodic comet flies by the Sun enough times, it can become depleted of its volatile elements. Once it is depleted, what distinguishes it from an asteroid, other than records of past sightings ...
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What meteor shower has the radiant that appears furthest west after sunset, and why?

When it finally gets answered, answers to How to calculate the position of a meteor shower's radiant point based on its associated comet's orbit? will help us understand why the radiant points ...
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What determines if a comet's debris will produce periodic meteor showers?

Background I was wondering if the debris from the comet NEOWISE that recently passed Earth would provide meteor showers in the future. I looked up that the Perseid meteor showers happen when the Earth ...
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Where is the Perseids meteor shower coming from?

Swift–Tuttle Comet has orbital period of 133.28 years. Yet, people say that debris and dust from this comet causes this meteor shower. This does not make any sense. Or do they want to say that from ...
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Has any of the orbiters or rover on Mars captured image of comet NEOWISE?

We are seeing stunning pictures of comet NEOWISE from earth (and ISS too), are there any pictures captured from Mars by an orbiter or rover, or any other spacecraft?
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Can a single impact event trigger a runaway greenhouse?

Somewhat related to this question: Is the Earth going to evolve towards Mars' fate or Venus' fate? Human civilization may be fragile, but life itself is extremely resilient, with extremophiles and ...
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How long can the comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) will observed with the naked eye or small optics?

In the answer to the question Where should I be looking to see Neowise in southern Sweden? there is a picture with the comet positions till 30 July. In other sources I saw similar pictures also with ...
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How to calculate the position of a meteor shower's radiant point based on its associated comet's orbit?

Below this answer to Why are Delta Aquariids “for the southern hemisphere” while the Perseids are “for the north”? I wrote the comment: +1 To make this complete, ...
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Why are Delta Aquariids “for the southern hemisphere” while the Perseids are “for the north”?

In the video How to spot Comet NEOWISE, plus the largest 3D map of the Universe | Night Sky News July 20 after 05:28 Dr. Becky (Smethurst, Oxford astrophysicist) ...
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Is there evidence for galactic “seasons”?

The Solar Year has huge effects on our climate, and the signs of passing seasons are physically evident on Earth. I recently learned about the Galactic Year. To my understanding, our sun orbits the ...
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Where should I be looking to see Neowise in southern Sweden?

I'm in the south of Sweden and just spent over an hour trying to find Neowise, but didn't see it. I live in a rural area, there are no lights nearby and there is a small hill with clear visibility ...
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Seeing comet NEOWISE?

Today the NY Times published an article that explained how to see NEOWISE at night. The article explains it like this: To catch NEOWISE yourself, look up at the northwest skies about an hour and a ...
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Comet Neowise c2020 f3 will return in ~6800 years, how can we be sure Earth will be in the right place to see it then?

I have read in several places that the orbital period of comet Neowise c2020 F3 is about 6800 years. In several popular media sources it is said that we will be able to see the same comet after ~6800 ...
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Why Comet C/2020 F3 Neowise returns even it's orbit is near- parabolic?

I have read in Wikipedia about Comet C/2020 F3 Neowise that it's orbit is near-parabolic. But in another section, it says that it is a non-periodic comet whlith orbital period ranging from 4500 years ...
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Will NEOWISE be known as the Great Comet of 2020?

Many or all comets visible to the naked eye are referred to as Great Comets of their year(s). Might NEOWISE too be called like this? Why or why not? Is the IAU responsible for declaration of Great ...
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If Planet Nine is a primordial black hole could it explain 'Oumuamua and Borisov's orbits without them being interstellar?

There has been an increasing amount of interest in the possibility of primordial black holes and that Planet Nine may be one itself. Planet Nine is a potential explanation for the orbital ...
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Is Neowise viewable from my position?

I have had an impossible time trying to locate this comet. My lat/long is 38.3/-82.4. My elevation is 705ft. The application that I'm using shows me exactly where Neowise is supposed to be (North East,...
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Blue color of ion (plasma) comet tails

What exactly is the cause of blue light of ion (plasma) tails of comets? Somewhere I have read that the source of blue light are CO+ ions which has just acquired the missing electron and became ...
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I'd like to photograph NEOWISE from Los Angeles, what is the optimal time?

I live in Los Angeles and have a camera adapter for my telescope -- nothing fancy just an Astromaster 114. What is the optimal time, in terms of dark sky and bright comet, to take a photo of Comet ...
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Can I calculate the apparent position of comet NEOWISE C/2020 F3 from a topographic position with Skyfield?

I'd like to get .altaz(next_several_weeks) of this comet from Skyfield and .separation_from() other planets. It reads the JPL ...
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Why is SWAN dimming?

The SWAN C/2020 F8 comet is passing near the Earth, but from Wikipedia The comet has dimmed a small amount since May 3. It was expected to possibly reach 3rd magnitude in May, but is now expected to ...
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How is Comet SWAN C/2020 F8 doing? Will it become easily visible by eye?

The New York Times article How to See Comet SWAN in Night Skies says: Astronomers have their fingers crossed that the comet will keep brightening in the coming weeks as it heads north, passing 52 ...
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Have meteor showers been predicted for planets or solar-system bodies other than Earth? Have attempts been made to detect them?

Per the linked Q's and A's in Why do particles from a comet that result in meteor showers spread out mostly along the comet's orbit? and it's answer, meteor showers happen on Earth when it passes ...
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Roughly what fraction of comet orbits that intersect Earths' orbit result in known meteor showers?

Per the linked Q's and A's in Why do particles from a comet that result in meteor showers spread out mostly along the comet's orbit? and it's answer, meteor showers happen on Earth when it passes ...
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Why do particles from a comet that result in meteor showers spread out mostly along the comet's orbit?

My understanding of the meteor showers that repeat yearly is that the Earth passes through the orbit of a comet that is nowhere near us, and might not even exist anymore, yet it's orbit is filled with ...
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How can comets have tails if there's no air resistance in space?

I understand that solar radiation causes material to vaporize out of a comet into dust but why does the dust then trail behind the comet like a "tail"? Assuming gravity is the only applied force ...
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How do we know that comets definitely mase and not just fluoresce?

Wikipedia's Astrophysical_maser#; comets mentions some anecdotes of notable masers associated with comets, and Maser emissions from comets begins: The 18-cm lines of the OH radical are the only ...
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Calculating distance of comet C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS)

SO, I decided I would take some pictures of the comet C/2019 Y4 last night. Afterwards, I thought I would try and do a rough estimation of distance based on my observations. I don't have any fancy ...
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Size and mass of comet ATLAS (C/2019 Y4)

I read some news about this new comet and some unreliable sources said it is twice as big as Jupiter. I tried to find a reliable estimation of its size or mass, but I couldn't find anything. Would you ...
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What makes the coming comet increase/decrease in brightness?

I understand C/1979 Atlas Y4 is potentially going to rapidly increase in brightness and visibility to the point we can see it very well in May-ish, in the Northern hemisphere. I am wondering why it's ...
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Why do all the stars near this comet show up as four separate dots in a row?

After seeing this tweet about our not-so-new but at least newly-discovered "mini-moon" I scrolled down and saw the tweeted image below. Since the object is the known short-period comet 114P/Wiseman–...
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Did comets 266P/Christensen or P/2008 Y2 (Gibbs) cause the Wow! signal?

Continuing my fascination with the Wow! signal, I stumbled upon an article from 2016 titled Famous Wow! signal might have been from comets, not aliens. It describes the hypothesis that the signal ...
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Comet 289P/Blanpain sudden outburst?

So Sky Safari has shown that comet 289P/Blainpain has had a sudden increase in brightness, and is currently sitting at mag -1.4!!! Last week it was sitting at +15. It is due to reach Perihelion on ...
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Do comet tails increase as comets move away from the Sun?

Do the tails of comets increase on their return trip from the Sun?