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Comets




Comets are dirty-ice leftovers from the formation of our solar system around 4.6 billion years ago. They are among the least-changed objects in our solar system and, as such, may yield important clues about the formation of our solar system. We can predict the orbits of many of them, but not all. Around a dozen "new" comets are discovered each year. Short-period comets are more predictable because they take less than 200 years to orbit the Sun. Most come from a region of icy bodies beyond the orbit of Neptune, the so called Kuiper Belt. Less predictable are long-period comets, many of which arrive from a distant region called the Oort cloud, about 100,000 astronomical units from the Sun. These comets can take as long as 30 million years to complete one trip around the Sun. As many as a trillion comets may reside in the Oort cloud, orbiting the Sun near the edge of the Sun's gravitational influence.




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103P/Hartley 17P/Holmes Swan (C/2006 M4) 8P/Tuttle

C/2011 L4 (Panstarrs) C/2012 S1 (Ison)
© Copyright Rob Kantelberg
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