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Midterm 3- Comets.docx

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Department
Astronomy
Course
CAS AS 101
Professor
Paul Withers
Semester
Fall

Description
AS 101: COMETS LECTURE 1 The icy bits of chapter 12: Objectives: What are cometary orbit like? What are comets like? What should I call Pluto? Comets: • Comets visible with long tails are only a small fraction of the solar system’s  population of comets.  Traditional Comets:  o Small o Tails o Occasionally passes through the inner solar system  o Ice composition • Long orbital comets: o 1000s to millions of years o Can reach 50,000 AU form the sun o Orbits can have any inclination o Doesn’t orbit sun in same direction as planets  • Short Orbital Periods: o Less than 200 years  o Travel around the sun in same plane and direction as the planets  o Go no further from the sun than 2 Neptune’s distance o Why do they enter the inner solar system at all? • Locations: o Oort Cloud – Don’t really know anything about it   Tails: o Do they always have tails? o Why do comets have tails? o Does the direction of the tail tell us where the comet is going? • What makes up a comet: o Solid nucleus (permanent) o Coma of gas (temporary) o Two tails (temporary)  Ionized gas  Dust o Violent jets of gas and dust  o Tail o
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