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Space & Astronomy

Are comets more dangerous than asteroids ?

December 24, 2015 | Comment icon 10 comments



A comet could rain destruction upon us for thousands of years. Image Credit: NASA/JPL
Our planet may be at higher risk from a large comet impact than from a conventional rocky asteroid.
Most of the objects that pose a risk to the Earth originate in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, but there is another lesser known type of object out there that could represent an even greater threat to our planet and about which we know comparatively little.

Known as 'centaurs', these giant comets are large balls of ice and dust measuring up to 60 miles across. They exist in unstable elliptical orbits around the sun and often cross paths with the gas giants Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

Every now and again however one of these large comets gets deflected towards the Earth and because it breaks up as it nears the sun even a single one of these objects has the potential to bombard our planet with debris for tens of thousands of years.
"In the last three decades we have invested a lot of effort in tracking and analyzing the risk of a collision between the Earth and an asteroid," said study co-author Bill Napier.

"Our work suggests we need to look beyond our immediate neighborhood too, and look out beyond the orbit of Jupiter to find centaurs. If we are right then these distant comets could be a serious hazard and itís time to understand them better."

Source: The Guardian | Comments (10)



Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by paperdyer 6 years ago
Besides the damage, we wouldn't have to worry about global warming. Another ice age could be started.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Lilly 6 years ago
Well, this one is a real 'cheerer upper' isn't it.
Comment icon #3 Posted by coolguy 6 years ago
Interesting,lot of comets come close to earth
Comment icon #4 Posted by seeder 6 years ago
Well, this one is a real 'cheerer upper' isn't it. indeed.... whats a comet anyway? This stuff....? The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked, And the one who loves violence His soul hates. 6Upon the wicked He will rain snares; Fire and brimstone and burning wind will be the portion of their cup. 7For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness; The upright will behold His face. .
Comment icon #5 Posted by pallidin 6 years ago
http://www.universet...ids-and-comets/ How likely is it that our planet could be hit by a large asteroid or comet? We do know that Earth has been hit many times in the past by asteroids and comets whose orbits bring them into the inner Solar System. There is strong scientific evidence that cosmic collisions played a major role in the mass extinctions documented in Earthís fossil records. These objects that come close to Earth, known as Near Earth Objects or NEOs, still pose a danger to Earth today. But NASA, ESA and other space agencies have search programs that have discovered hundreds of tho... [More]
Comment icon #6 Posted by Infernal Gnu 6 years ago
Just ONE of these centaurs could break up and bombard our beautiful fragile blue planet for TENS OF THOUSANDS OF YEARS?? (plop) Lord, I hope Jesus returns before then.
Comment icon #7 Posted by highdesert50 6 years ago
Whether by old age or catastrophic event, our deaths are a certainty. We cannot change the reality, we can, however, alter our attitude and consequentially decide how we want to live and what kind of legacy we want to leave behind. As a civilization, establishing a foothold on Mars would help to assure a part of our civilization continues should an extinction event occur on Earth. And, that would be a noble legacy.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Noteverythingisaconspiracy 6 years ago
Just ONE of these centaurs could break up and bombard our beautiful fragile blue planet for TENS OF THOUSANDS OF YEARS?? (plop) Lord, I hope Jesus returns before then. Does Jesus have special comet stopping powers ? Maybe his father shouldn't have created those comets in the first place ?
Comment icon #9 Posted by Infernal Gnu 6 years ago
Have a blessed day, Noteverythingisaconspiracy.
Comment icon #10 Posted by MissJatti 6 years ago
They both are bad as each other, if it hits Earth


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