Comets are small worlds made up of ice, rock, and dusty materials, kind of like a dirty snowball. There are three parts to a comet, the nucleus, the coma and the tail. The nucleus and the coma are made up of solid materials and the tail is made up of gasses. Comets come from 2 different places in the solar system, the Kuiper Belt and the Ooort Cloud. Inside these two places there are millions of comets all moving around each other in every direction. The comets in these two places spend billions of years moving all around. When two comets move very close to each other or crash together in the Kuiper Belt or Ooort Cloud, they get a new path and sometimes it bring one of them into the Inner Solar System.
Once they start get to the Inner Solar System they start to melt. This is how they get their tails. The tails are caused by the melting of the ice around the comet as they get to the warmer part of the Solar System. This is also what causes the comet to die, because all of the ice melts off and all that is left is dust. The comets that do not melt often travel in an elliptical orbit around our Solar System. The comets fly very close to the Sun and then they go out in to space, often around Pluto.
There are many comets that fly by Earth, but only a few of them can be seen with your naked eyes. One of them is Halley’s Comet. You can see this comet without a telescope, but it only passes by Earth every 75 years. The last time it was here was 1986, that means it won’t be traveling by Earth again until 2061! Meteor showers are also comets, but just parts of the many smaller comets that pass by. The meteor showers are solid pieces of the comets that burn up when they cross the Earth’s atmosphere. I think that they are beautiful and I always wondered where they came from.
By: Mia Andreasen [continues]
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