Physics Science

Comet, which will reappear in 2061 !

A comet is a small, icy body in the Solar System that warms up and begins to release gases as it approaches the Sun. This process is known as outgassing. This results in a visible coma or atmosphere, as well as a tail in some cases. The effects of solar radiation and the solar wind on the nucleus of the comet are responsible for these occurrences.  Comet nuclei are loose collections of ice, dust, and small rocky particles that range in size from a few hundred meters to tens of kilometers in diameter.

The coma could be up to 15 times the size of Earth, and the tail could be several astronomical units long. A comet can be seen without a telescope from Earth if it is sufficiently bright and spans a 30° (60 Moons) arc across the sky.  Many cultures have observed and recorded comets since antiquity.  Comets typically have highly eccentric elliptical orbits with orbital periods ranging from several years to potentially millions of years.

Short-period comets form in the Kuiper belt or its associated scattered disc, which lies beyond Neptune’s orbit.  Long-period comets are thought to form in the Oort cloud, a spherical cloud of icy bodies that extends from the Kuiper belt to halfway to the nearest star. Long-period comets are propelled from the Oort cloud to the Sun by gravitational perturbations caused by passing stars and the galactic tide.

How Do Comets Form ?

The material in the comet dates back to the formation of the Solar System. Comets, according to some astronomers, formed around 4.6 billion years ago. Comets are made up of an icy core called the nucleus that is surrounded by a large cloud of gas and dust called the Coma.  Do you know that as a comet gets closer to the Sun, it develops two tails? These two tails are a straight gas tail and a curved dust tail.

The solar wind creates a straight gas tail that pushes gas away from the comet’s coma and points straight back at the Sun.  The dust in the coma is unaffected by magnetic fields and is vaporized by the Sun’s heat. As a result, a curved tail forms that follow the Comet’s orbit.  Gottfried Kirch made the first telescopic discovery of a comet in 1680. Edward Emerson Barnard made the first photographic discovery of a comet.

Amazing facts about comets

  • “Comet” is derived from the Latin “cometes,” which is derived from the Greek “kometes,” which means “long-haired.”
  • A comet is made up of four parts: a nucleus, a coma, a dust tail, and an ion tail. A comet’s nucleus is made of ice and rocky material and can range in size from a few hundred metres to 100 kilometres (62 miles).
  • The coma is the cloud of gases that forms around the nucleus as the coma heats up. These gases are typically a blend of water vapour, ammonia, and carbon dioxide. A comet’s dust tail is made up of gases and tiny dust particles that are blown away from the nucleus as the comet heats up. The dust tail of a comet is the most visible part of it.
  • The ion tail is a stream of ionised gases that are blown directly away from the Sun as a result of the comet’s interaction with the solar wind.
  • When a comet’s ices are heated by the Sun, they begin to sublimate. In the solar wind, a mixture of ice crystals and dust blows away from the comet nucleus, forming a pair of tails. When we look at comets from Earth, we usually see the dust tail.
  • There are many types of comets. Periodic and non-periodic are the most common. Periodic comets, also known as short-period comets, have orbital periods of less than 200 years.
  • Edmond Halley discovered in 1705 while studying the orbits of several known comets, that the comet observed in 1531, 1607, and 1682 was the same comet. As a result of Halley’s discovery, the comet was named after him. Halley’s Comet appears once every 75 to 76 years.
  • Halley’s comet is expected to reappear on July 2061.
  • A comet will die by colliding with something massive, exploding as a result of being ripped apart by the sun’s gravity, or “going extinct” by losing volatile materials and transforming into extremely small lumps of rock.
  • There are actually over 3,000 identified comets.

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