Depletion of comets - Depletion of comets There will be...

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Depletion of comets There will be depletion of both short- and long-term comets by collisions and "encounters". Either type could be ejected from the system by interaction with the Gas Giants especially. Long period comets may be lost due to energy imparted by passing suns. Interaction in the inner solar system Taking the volume for interaction as the region < 2AU, which is where most comets become visible, the c/s area of that central sphere is (pi)(2 x 1.5 10 11 ) 2 = 3 10 23 m 2 The planets in this volume have a c/s area of 3 10 14 m 2 , so the probability of collision is about 10 - 9 . Long period comets have periods of around 10 6 years, and may pass through, say, 10 3 times assuming a lifetime of a significant fraction of the age of the solar system. Thus there is only a 10 -6 chance of being destroyed by a collision. This is, of course, the probability of a given comet colliding during its lifetime. The probability of a collision with a (any) comet, will be much larger - in proportion to the number of comets that pass through the system overall. This calculation also uses too low a collision cross-section
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