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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Are exo-meteoroids possible?

Is it possible that meteoroids, comets, asteroids or other small bodies from around a nearby star (such as Alpha Centauri) could get into the solar system? How low is that possibility? Edit: ...
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Which measurements have shown that 2014 MU69 is red? (New Horizons' next target)

The recent NASA feature article New Horizons: Possible Clouds on Pluto, Next Target is Reddish MU69 is actually the smallest KBO to have its color measured – and scientists have used that data to ...
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Why does Kepler's “Big Picture” of comet 67P look so strange? And what is the significance?

The observation of comet 67P by the Kepler space telescope has been reported in various science news outlets recently. For example, the image below appeared in the recent NASA news article NASA's ...
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How long does a comet “live”?

When a comet loses all his volatile material after many orbits around the Sun, it becomes a "dead" comet (like an asteroid, a centaur or whatever), see for example 2015 TB145. Is there any ...
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Does the loss of mass create an observable change in a comet's orbit?

Comets lose their mass through water evaporation due to close encounter with sun, so my question is does the loss of mass create an observable change in a comet's orbit? What kind of change that may ...
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Does Jupiter help to protect the Earth against comets/asteroids impacts?

Does Jupiter help to protect the Earth against comets or asteroids impacts? Some astronomers believe that one reason Earth is habitable is that the gravity of Jupiter does help protect us from some ...
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Do comet orbits lie in the same plane as the other planets?

Two typical comets that I know are Donati's and Halley's. So comets also have orbits, but are their orbits on the same plane (such as the ecliptic) as the other planets?
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safeguards against comets?

I read one of the related questions here, but what i'm curious to know is how do we deflect imminent collision courses of comets, if we detect them at a later stage? I read somewhere else that there ...
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What (actually) is Jupiter doing to this year's Perseids meteor shower?

After reading the Astronomy Magazine article Perseid meteor shower set for its best show in nearly 20 years and NASA's Look Up! Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks Aug. 11-12, I understand that Jupiter's ...
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Why is the “green” comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) red in this picture?

In this nice NYTimes 'survey article' "Our Vast Solar System and Its Many Explorers" there is a NEOWISE image of Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy). See here also. The NASA description of the image says: ...
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Can a comet orbit a planet?

Given that moons commonly orbit planets, why do we never encounter a comet orbiting a planet? What would happen (exactly, in detail) if a large one did settle into a stable orbit around the Earth? ...
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Does this video catch an Eta Aquarid - Earth skimming meteor?

I did a time-lapse animation looking towards the sunrise from Sydney, Australia on 25th of April. You can see it here around 1m 25s in (that link should jump to just before it appears very near where ...
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Why are radar images of comets shaded only on one side?

NASA published a picture of a comet the other day. The image shows the comet being lit from above. See NASA's picture below. However, since it is a radar image, I would have assumed to get a shading ...
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How big do comets get?

If my understanding is correct, Chury, the best explored comet so far is rather on the smallish side as comets go. Most comets observable with naked eye were so because they flew close to Earth, not ...
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Why do comets appear to have a continuous supply of dust?

Comets orbiting the sun have a tail that points away from the Sun, due to the solar wind. (Strictly speaking, a comet can have both a type I tail - ion tail, and a type II tail - a dust tail. This ...
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Earth Versus Catastrophic Meteor

How evasive is the Earth to Catastrophic Meteors? Google says the Earth is approximately 92.96 million miles from the Sun. It also says the suns radius is 432,474 miles. Therefore, it is 93,392,474 ...
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Is there sufficient evidence to confirm additional Planet in solar system

I have watched this scishow episode where Hank says that astronomers believe there is another planet in our solar system. Link He says that it's because how asteroids and comments are being pushed ...
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Where is the materials of comet after it crashed into the sun?

If a comet crashes into the sun, where will the substance (eg: water,silicon) be? Will they be inside the sun? Or they will be ejected from sun again?
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Why is Rosetta's Comet so “warm”?

Rosetta Comet AKA 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko has the surface temperature range of -43 to -93 degree Celsius. Now, if we compare that with the Mercury (I chose Mercury cause it's closest to the Sun ...
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What was that Asteroid/Comet in the 90s?

I am now in my mid 20s and I remember when I was 6-10 years old, there was a comet or asteroid that flew really close to earth. I remember being able to see the object very clearly as if it were the ...
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Could the trajectories of non-periodic comets be used to infer properties of the 'ninth planet'?

Non-periodic comets are comets which have very long orbital periods (>200 years or more), spending most of their time in the outer solar system. Planet X, recently revived by researchers at Caltech, ...
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If sun steals comets from other stars, then what is the primary source of comets?

I heard some theory that sun may steal materials such as comets from neighbouring stars, is it true? But if is true, what is the primary source of those comets? Especially "who" creates them instead ...
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Is it possible for a virus to come from a meteorite?

So I am not a true scientist and I was just wondering if an extraterrestrial rock from space can have some dangerous unidentified virus or bacteria that can be deadly and wipe out the Earth if it not ...
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Have we ever observed a body, such as a large asteroid, “hitting” the Sun?

Some other SE questions about launching ICBM's into the sun got me wondering whether we have ever observed an object on a path that intersected with the Sun? How close did it get?
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How frequently does a comet drastically change its orbit in the Solar System (like 67P did in 1959)?

Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko flew by Jupiter at only 0.05 AU distance in 1959. This encounter lowered its perihelion from 2.7 to 1.3 AU (almost becoming an Earth crossing comet). Since it happens ...
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Do sungrazing comets leave a field of meteoroids near the Sun?

A large fraction (a third?) of all comets found (with observational bias thanks to SOHO) have been sungrazers, breaking up with perihelion of a few of Sun's radius. Is there reason to believe that ...
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What is a dead comet?

How is a Dead Comet different from the normal comet? How are they formed? And why is the Halloween asteroid 2015 TB145 called a dead comet?.
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What does oxygen on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko mean?

Recently, the Rosetta mission found oxygen on the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. According to theories, oxygen should not be in the state in which it is on the comet. What are the previous theories ...
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What is the probability of an astronomical body hitting you?

It appears that there is already a calculated ballpark for meteor fatalities, but what about other factors such as space trash, comets, and other miscellaneous items in space? Is it possible to ...
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Are mass extinction events more likely during meteor showers / passing through comet debris?

Meteor showers happen when Earth passes through the debris left by a comet in its orbit. Meteors are generally tiny, like snow flings or pebbles and don't make it to the ground as meteorites. But ...
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How can Halley's Comet be predictable?

How can we know that Halley's Comet is going to come again every 76 years? I understand that the comet has an orbit around the sun but how can scientists know that it won't be thrown off course for ...
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How far away would a supernucleus comet be visible?

If an instrument like LSST quickly spots something as soon as it reaches magnitude 24½, how far away would a 60km first-time visitor from the Oort cloud be when it is spotted? I'm thinking that a ...
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Is any meteorite known to come from a comet?

Comets are mostly icy but they should have some rocky components too, right? I wonder if there's any rocky piece of a former comet among collected meteorites. Is it possible today to identify a ...
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Is it accurate to compare comets to clouds and rain?

I'm trying to avoid an opinion-based question, so before I outline the comparison I'm proposing, I will qualify the specific facts that yield this comparison. By focusing answers on the relative ...
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Is there a mechanism that makes small moons more rounded than comets?

67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko has a highly irregular dumbbell shape. But the sample of comet shapes observed is very small, so I wonder if irregular shape is the norm for comets and for small moons. Many ...
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How much time comet is within the Earth's orbit? [closed]

Comet on the parabola orbit flies by Sun. I would like to know what is comet's full energy? What is its distance from Sun at perihelion?
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How often are new astronomical objects (variable stars, supernovae, comets, etc) discovered by amateurs?

How often are new astronomical objects (variable stars, supernovae, comets, etc) discovered by amateurs? Where could one report new findings?
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How did water get on Earth

I recently read that water more than likely got here by comets (carrying water) hitting the Earth. However it also it says the impact of a comet hitting the Earth is much greater than an atomic bomb. ...
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Why did Earth need material from comets to assemble the raw materials for life?

It's often speculated that matter from comets played a crucial role in the development of life on Earth. For example, Maps of Time says, Many of the ingredients of the early atmosphere (including ...
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Lack of planets in the Oort Cloud

With the current news about the possibility of a planet in the Oort cloud, I was thinking, why is the matter in the Oort cloud distributed so? It makes sense that inside the planet region there is not ...
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Where does the dust on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko come from?

As we (laymen) are told, comets lose gas and dust when they descent into the denser regions of the solar system. Seemingly so much and so large parts that they can even cause meteor showers like in ...
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How is the path of an asteroid calculated?

How do scientists and astronomers recognize the perfect path or orbit (if it's orbiting an object) of an asteroid or a comet?
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landing on a comet is more important than landing on an asteroid?

Philae landed on comet 67P this year. And it means a big breakthrough for the science and technology of human being. However Hayabusa mission of Japan not only landed on an asteroid but also returned ...
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Why do comets come from our local Oort cloud instead of from interstellar sources?

Comets form where stars form. And they are then ejected by the orbital changes of giant planets. But why are they ejected to form specifically a local Oort cloud instead of going interstellar and ...
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Do/did the asteroids contain enough water to create Earth's oceans?

It seems from the recent Science paper by Altwegg et al (2014) that the commonly accepted source of Earth's water being the comets might not be (completely) true. Their study suggest that the water in ...
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Could the Philae comet lander be recharged by laser?

Could the Philae comet lander be recharged with a laser (or possibly many lasers) from earth? My thought would be to aim one or more powerful lasers from earth at the Philae lander to recharge it ...
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How does 67P rotate?

What can be said about 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko axial tilt? Is it fixed (if so, at what value), only changing with precession (at what rate?) or does 67P "tumble" with axial tilt changing over time? ...
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Leonid meteor showers and the Tempel-Tuttle comet

I've been reading about the Leonid meteor showers and am struggling to understand one piece of information. On Wikipedia (Tempel-Tuttle), it states: The orbit of 55P/Tempel–Tuttle intersects that ...
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Why all the photos from 67p are black and white?

I was wondering why every picture we saw on internet about Rosetta's landing on 67p just black and white ? Is there something i should know ?
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Why does Jupiter break comets apart?

I understand that there are magnificent tidal forces that come with getting too close to Jupiter, but what is causing comets like Shoemaker-Levy to get torn apart? I wouldn't expect that the ...