21 Curious Comets Facts: Solar System Famous Comets Explained For Kids | Kidadl


21 Curious Comets Facts: Solar System Famous Comets Explained For Kids

Arts & Crafts
Learn more
Reading & Writing
Learn more
Math & Logic
Learn more
Sports & Active
Learn more
Music & Dance
Learn more
Social & Community
Learn more
Mindful & Reflective
Learn more
Outdoor & Nature
Learn more
Read these Tokyo facts to learn all about the Japanese capital.

Most comets are only a few miles across.

A Comet is classified by astronomers depending on the length of the orbits around the sun. According to NASA, short-period comets take 200 years or less to finish a single orbit, and long-period comets require more than 200 years.

Still, single apparition comets are not connected to the sun and circle outside the solar system. Instead, the ices on a comet start to sublimate once exposed to the heat. Then, a combination of ice particles and dust flows away from the comet nucleus in the solar wind, forming two tails. When we look at comets from Earth, we usually observe the dust tail.

When gas molecules are stimulated by contact with the solar wind, a plasma tail emerges. Although the plasma tail is not visible to the human eye, it can be recorded. Comets originate in the Oort Cloud with Kuiper Belt areas of the outer solar system, and they generally orbit the Sun. Unlike the rest of the tiny bodies of the solar system, comets have been studied since antiquity. Comet is derived from the Greek term Komets, which means 'long hair'. This is because a comet's tail might resemble long strands of hair.

Comets Meaning with an Example

Comets are icy bodies of rocky material, frozen gases, and dust left over from the solar system's origin 4.6 billion years ago. A comet comprises four parts: the nucleus, the coma, the dust tail, and the ion tail. The nucleus is the main body of a comet, which can contain water, nitrogen, methane, and other ices. Comets are often known as 'cosmic snowballs' or 'dirty snowballs'. Just like planets, comets orbit the Sun in elliptical trajectories. Halley's comet is one of the most famous comets as it approaches the inner solar system every 76 Earth years. Comet Shoemaker-Levy nine is among our solar system's comets, albeit it isn't as well-known as Halley's. In 1993, Shoemaker-Levy 9 split up into bits that scattered across Jupiter.

Comets drop weight as they approach the sun due to a process known as sublimation. Because it is so little and moving fast, the comet will finally split up after many years of orbiting the sun. Comets can eject shards of rock that drop as meteor showers on Earth. A comet's demise can occur as a result of colliding with something enormous, exploding due to being pulled apart by the sun's gravity, or 'becoming extinct' as a result of losing volatile materials and reducing to tiny rock lumps. In addition, comets have an ion tail due to solar winds blowing across them. Currently, there are around 3,000 comets currently known in our solar system.

Famous Comets

The Oort Cloud and the Kuiper Belt are two segments of the outer Solar System that produce comets. The Kuiper Belt is closer to Earth than the Oort Cloud.

Edmond Halley discovered in 1705, while researching the trajectories of variously known comets, that the comets seen in 1531, 1607, then 1682 were the same comet. This comet was called after Halley as a reward for his observation. In antiquity, the most famous comet is the periodic Comet Halley (1P/Halley). Every 76 years, it comes to the inner solar system. In July 2061, Halley's comet is expected to reappear. Another cause not to go is that its gravitational pull is so weak that you could jump off its surface towards space. Other comets, according to scientists, are chemically identical to Halley's Comet. Comets arrive in various types, but periodic as well as non-periodic are the most prevalent.

Most people are familiar with the Hale Bopp Comet because of a well-publicized Californian cult that believed the comet was a spacecraft. The Hale Bopp comet was last seen in 1997, and it won't be seen again for almost 2,300 years. This comet is titled after Alan Hale with Thomas Bopp, two co-discoverers.

Shoemaker-Levy 9, commonly called SL 9, was a group of comets trapped by Jupiter's gravity and formed an orbit around the planet. On the other hand, SL 9's assumed orbit around Jupiter was exceedingly irregular. As a consequence of this irregularity, SL 9 collided with Jupiter in a spectacular display in the week of July 16, 1994. Gene Shoemaker, Carolyn Shoemaker, and David Levy are the namesakes of Shoemake-Levy 9. Astronomers had a front-row seat with the first asteroid strike of solar system objects thanks to the Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet. In addition, scientists have recently identified comets in the asteroid belt, and these main-belt comets could be a primary origin of moisture for the inner terrestrial planets.

878 comets have been cataloged as of 1995, with their orbits at least approximately determined. There are 184 periodic comets (orbital periods fewer than 200 yrs) among them; some of the others are likely to be periodic as well, although their orbits have not been established with enough precision to be certain.

Comets Characteristics

Comets are a mix of ices (both frozen gases and water) and dirt that didn't get absorbed into planets during the solar system's formation. As a result, they're fascinating as examples of the solar system's early past.

The nucleus is largely made up of ice and gas, with a minor bit of dust and other substances thrown in for good measure. As a result, the nucleus releases a dense cloud of water vapor, carbon dioxide, and other inert gases, known as a coma. In layman's terms, 'coma' refers to the dust and gas that surrounds the nucleus. The neutral hydrogen cloud is a massive (millions of kilometers in diameter) but sparse perimeter. The dust tail, which can be up to 6.2 million mi (10 million km) long and comprises smoke-sized dust clouds ejected from the nucleus from escaping gases, is the most visible feature of a comet to the naked eye. The second tail of a comet can be as long as 360 million mi (579 million km). The ion tail, which can be hundreds of millions of kilometers long and is made up of plasma, is laced by streamers and rays created by collisions with the solar wind.

Comets are only seen when they are close to the Sun. Most comets possess highly eccentric orbits that send them well beyond Pluto's orbit; they remain visible for millennia before disappearing. Only the short- and transitional comets (such as Comet Halley) spend a major portion of their orbits within Pluto's orbit. A comet whose orbit brings it close to the Sun is also likely to collide with planets or the Sun or be expelled from the solar system.

When the Earth travels through the orbit of a comet, a meteor shower can occur. The Perseid meteor shower, which happens each year between August 9-13, happens when the Earth travels through the orbit of Comet Swift-Tuttle. In October, the Orionid shower was caused by comet Halley. Amateur astronomers are responsible for the discovery of many comets. Because comets shine brightest when closest to the Sun, they're typically only visible at dawn or dusk.

Comets are also known as 'dirty snowballs' or 'icy mudballs'.

Comets Atmosphere

The Oort Cloud and the Kuiper Belt are space locations far out in the universe, far away from the Sun, where comets originate. We've never seen the Oort Cloud since it's too far away! The comets observable from Earth are certainly from the Kuiper Belt, which is close to Pluto. The Oort Cloud and Kuiper Belt are where comets spend most of their lives. Two comets can collide now and then. They frequently shift direction due to this, which can send them out into the inner solar system.

The Sun warms a comet as it reaches the inner planets. It starts to melt and emits dust and gas whenever this happens. This results in a head and a tail. The component of the comet that we see in the sky is the tail. The tail faces away from the Sun at all times. This indicates that the tail of a comet is sometimes behind it and sometimes in front of it. It all relies on whether the comet is approaching or fleeing the Sun. Perihelion is the closest point in the comet's orbit towards the Sun. The farthest point is known as 'aphelion'. When a comet approaches closer to the Sun, it starts to heat up. Some of its ices subsume as a result of this. If the ice is near to the surface of a comet, it may generate a small 'jet' of debris that spews out like a mini-geyser.

Comets emit material that fills the orbit of the comet. Those elements fall to Earth (or other planets) as meteor showers when Earth passes through that flow. A comet will probably break up if it orbits the sun enough times. Comets can potentially disintegrate if they pass too closely by the Sun or the other planet in their orbit. A comet is typically composed of frozen water as well as supercold ices of methane, carbon dioxide ices, and ammonia.

Many comets formed in the Kuiper Belts and Oort Cloud regions.  A number following the title of a periodic comet is used to indicate its order among comets observed by that person or group, but there would be no such number for new comets. Comets aren't alien bases or spaceships, they're interesting parts of the solar system's elements that date back to the Sun and planets' birth.

<p>Devangana is a highly accomplished content writer and a deep thinker with a Master's degree in Philosophy from Trinity College, Dublin. With a wealth of experience in copywriting, she has worked with The Career Coach in Dublin and is constantly looking to enhance her skills through online courses from some of the world's leading universities. Devangana has a strong background in computer science and is also an accomplished editor and social media manager. Her leadership skills were honed during her time as the literacy society president and student president at the University of Delhi.</p>

Read The Disclaimer

Was this article helpful?