Comet Amazing Facts

30 Amazing and Interesting Facts about Comet | Amazing Facts 4U 

  1. The name comet comes from the Greek word meaning hair of the head, it came from the Aristotle who observed comets as stars with hair.
  2. Comet is an icy body releasing dust and/or gas. Recent studies on comets have led scientists to call them as snowy dirtballs. All comets orbit the sun.
  3. Comets are one of the oldest objects of universe. They are in fact celestial objects created from the leftovers of rocks, dust, ice and gas that were formed some 4.6 billion years ago when the universe was formed.
  4. Comets may have brought life to Earth and filled our oceans. In 2009 a NASA space probe took a sample from comet Wild-2 and found that it contained the amino acid glycine , an essential building block of life. A study suggests that comet collisions may have brought 10 trillion Kg of organic material to Earth, and provided energy for the synthesis of more complex molecules.
  5. In 2011 scientists also discovered that the water inside a comet was just like the water in Earth’s oceans suggesting that comets may have brought water to Earth billions of years ago.
  6. The periodic Comet Halley is the most famous in history. It has been observed since at least 240 B.C. It returns to the inner solar system once every 76 years. It’s most recent appearance was in 1986 when it was photographed close up by Europe’s Giotti space craft and Russia’s Vega 1 and Vega 2 space crafts. Its next appearance will be in 2061.
  7. American writer Mark Twain was born on November 30th 1835, two weeks after an appearance of Halley’s Comet’s. In his biography, he stated that he was born with Halley’s Comet, and is likely to die with it. Mark Twain in fact died on April 21st 1910  the day after Halley’s Comet reappeared.
  8. Comet Hale-Bopp was initially believed the comet to be a spacecraft. It was last visible in 1997 and will not be visible again for approximately 2,300 years.
  9. A great comet is one which is bright enough to be visible from Earth with naked eyes. Aproximately one great comet happens every ten years.
  10. A comet has four components: a nucleus, a coma, a dust tail and an ion tail.
  11. A comet’s main body is known as nucleus also called as the core. The core or the nucleus is made of dust with dark organic material coating and ice. The ice present in the nucleus is made of frozen water, carbon dioxide, ammonia, carbon monoxide and methane. . The nucleus of most comets ranges from about 10 to 100 km in diameter, though they can be as large as 100 km in diameter.
  12. The cloud of gases that forms around the nucleus as it is heated is know as the coma. These gases are usually a mixture of water vapor, ammonia, carbon dioxide. The coma of a comet can extend up to 1.6 million kilometers or 1 million miles.
  13. Usually comets do not have nuclei greater than 16 kilometers or 10 miles wide.
  14. The dust tail is composed of dust particles which are pushed away from the coma by the radiations from the sun. The dust tail always and always points away from the sun. The dust tail is the most visible part of a comet. The tail of a comet can extend all the way up to 100 million miles or 160 million kilometers.
  15. Apart from the dust tail, a comet has something called ion tail. As the comet gets closer to the sun, some of the gases gets converted into ions. These ions are also pushed out by the sun’s radiations, forming it. The ion tail is not visible to naked eyes. It also always points away from the sun.
  16. The comet may be confused with asteroid when dust tail and ion tail aren’t visible. Presence of at least one of the tails differentiates them.
  17. In fact it is the glow of the coma and the dust tail that makes a comet visible to naked eyes. Without the glow, the comets will not be visible to naked eyes. They glow because they reflect sunlight and also absorb energy from sun rays. The absorbed energy is then radiated out in form of visible light.
  18. Amazingly a comet almost always leaves behind a debris trail, which leads to meteor shower.
  19. A short-period comet is one that takes 200 years or less to complete one orbit while long-period comets on the other hand are those that take more than 200 years to complete one orbital rotation.
  20. Single apparition comets are the comets that are by no means bound to the sun. In fact, their orbit is such that they just move out of the solar system.
  21. Sun gazers are comets that end up smashing right into the sun or they simply get so close to the sun that they break up and eventually evaporate.
  22. As per scientists short period comets originate from Kuiper Belt while the long period comets originate from the Oort Cloud.
  23. Scientists say that the main asteroid belt of our solar system between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter is also a source of several comets. These comets are key water sources for inner terrestrial planets.
  24. Comets are usually named named after their discoverers. Halley’s comet was discovered by Edmond Halley.
  25. Ancients often used to associate comets with the bad omen. Romans looked upon comets as bad omen so much that Emperor Nero executed all possible successors of throne just to protect himself from the so-called “curse of the comet”.
  26. Comets usually follow an elliptical orbit around the sun. This is why there is a significant difference between perihelion (the closest distance from sun) and aphelion (the farthest distance from sun).
  27. Amazingly comets can hit earth. Scientists say that 28 million years ago, a comet actually crashed into the Sahara Desert. Scientists have actually found in Sahara, a tiny pebble that they call Hypatia which is possibly from the nucleus of a comet.
  28. Scientists have actually discovered some 4,000 comets so far and they say that there are actually trillions of them out there in the space.
  29. One comet named Shoemaker-Levy 9 went on to spectacularly collide with Jupiter in 1994 . The gravitational tug of the planet ripped the comet into pieces and 21 visible impacts were recorded. A massive fireball rising to the height of 1,800 miles was the result. The collision resulted in a giant dark spot extending up to 12,000 kilometers across. The collision was believed to have a force of 6,000 gigatons of TNT!
  30. Europe’s Rosetta probe made its historic arrival at Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on Aug. 6 2014, making Rosetta the first human-built craft ever to rendezvous with a comet and send pictures. It flew about 100 kilometers from the comet to gather valuable data that has helped scientists learn more about comets.

By Amazing Facts 4U Team

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