Lecture20.doc - LongPeriodComets

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Long Period Comets Unlike planets, most comets are not confined to plane of Solar System.  Thus they are  thought to originate in a spherical shell of material called the “Oort Cloud” after the great  Dutch astronomer who first postulated its existence. Far enough away from the Sun, comets in the Oort Cloud can stay in near circular orbits  around the Sun until orbits are perturbed (e.g. by passing star), then fall toward the Sun.  It takes 100,000s of years to make this journey, Thus these are the “long-period” comets.  Total mass of  Oort cloud is less than the mass of the Earth. Short Period Comets A class of periodic comet, the short-period comets, have orbits that lie closer to  the plane of the Solar System.  These comets are thought to have been formed in the inner Solar System, and were ejected to a region  several hundred AU out, past the orbit of Pluto into the Kuiper belt.
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This note was uploaded on 03/02/2011 for the course ASTRO 10 taught by Professor Norm during the Spring '06 term at University of California, Berkeley.

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Lecture20.doc - LongPeriodComets

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