Asteroid, comets & meteors

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Asteroid : A great number of small sized bodies could not turn into planets when the solar system was formed, but continued to revolve around the sun. These bodies are known as asteroids. A belt of such celestial bodies has formed between the planets Mars and Jupiter.

A comet : It is a celestial body that revolves around the sun. Comets are formed out of ice, dust, rock, carbon dioxide, methane and other gases. Comets originate in the Kuiper belt. They are part of the solar system. Comets are made up of frozen matter and dust particles. When they are close to the sun, this frozen matter gets converted into gas due to the solar heat. These gases get thrown in a direction away from the sun. As a result, certain comets appear to have a long feathery tail. Due to their long elliptical orbits, their appearance in the sky is very rare. They reappear in the sky after very long periods of time.

Comets are classified in two main groups.

Long period comets: These comets take more than 200 years to complete one revolution around the sun.

Short period comets: These comets take less than 200 years to complete one revolution around the sun Halley’s comet appeared in the year 1910 and reappeared in 1986. Its central part or nucleus was found to be 16 km long and 7.5 km wide. Halley’s comet takes 76 years to complete its revolution around the sun.

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A meteors :- At times, we see a falling star. This event is called a meteor fall. Mostly these meteors are rocky pieces originating from the asteroid belt. Smaller rocky pieces get completely burnt due to friction with air after they enter the earth’s atmosphere. Sometimes the meteors do not burn completely and fall to the surface of the earth. These are called meteorites.

The Lonar lake in Maharashtra, India has been formed by the impact of such a meteorite.

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