What is the difference between an asteroid and a comet?




Comet – this is a relatively small astronomical object with a tail, known as the “coma”, which creates a temporary atmosphere of the comet. Asteroids do not have such a tail, and is usually defined as a simple astronomical object orbiting the Sun, but it’s not a planet and not a comet. Parse the next.

The tail of the comet is heated sun various substances, such as ice water, and the boiling point of the vacuum space. These volatile substances are ejected from the comet and are carried away by the solar wind, creating a tail. That is why the tail of the comet is always directed away from the sun relative to the comet and not how it is usually perceived – comet on its back in the vector space.

These tails have generated widespread belief that comets are composed mostly of ice, surrounded by a relatively small amount of ore with small patches of material in the ice. Asteroids just ask around if people are made ​​up of different types of metals and stones, which are formed in relatively close proximity to the Sun . Of course, the hot sunshine excluded from asteroids water or materials of this type. However, over the last ten years it has become known that all is not always the case, and the composition of comets and asteroids little different. Is it really that comets contain more ice as initially formed in the “snow zone”.

In 2011, a team of NASA Deep Space 1 discovered that the surface of the comet Borrelli not icy, and vice versa – hot and dry, no trace of water and ice, as most asteroids. However, the tail was there where it supposed to be. Theory suggests that the ice should be somewhere near the surface of the case, hidden under a crust so that it is not seen. Further investigation of comet Tempel 1 in 2005 – with a probe that was blown under the surface to take a look at the innards – have shown that the theory is correct, and the ice is hiding under the surface.

At this point, the difference between an ordinary asteroid and comet a little blurred. Some asteroids believed to contain water in the form of ice, which lies beneath the surface. Recent discoveries have shown that the very dust of the comet dust resembles asteroid, which makes it possible to assume that they are composed of the same, but again, more ice in comets in the lineup.

Thus, we return to the basic difference: the comet have volatile materials, mostly water, so when they come into our solar system, some of the water evaporates and forms a tail. And in the end, when water and other low-melting materials will relieve the comet from its presence, it becomes a normal asteroid.

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Tags: Asteroids , Comets , Solar System .


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