Comet (I)

An elementary definition of a comet says- “a comet is a celestial object consisting of a nucleus of ice and dust and, when near the sun, a ‘tail’ of gas and dust particles pointing away from the sun.” But, astronomers are explorers. Though one of these bodies was the reason for the extinction of dinosaurs, studying it from a suitable distance is the most fascinating part. The far the merrier! What can the tail of a comet consist of? Patently, its composition will be the same as that of a comet. So, why does it run behind the comet and not with the comet? This can be because of an opposite force by some strange anomaly. Well, firstly, the tail of a comet forms due to the conversion of solids in the comet into the liquid state. The reason that can stand in support is the heat of the sun that strikes the comet during its journey on the path- near to the sun. Now, only one thing remains, which will form a final tail of a comet. An opposite force? As we all know, solar heat does not, individually, contain light. It comprises tiny particles too. This is known as “the solar flare.” This is the “major” and most “visible” reason for the creation of the tail from that liquid-composition of the comet. Why is it important to study comets? Unlike other members of the solar system, comets change very little over time. Besides, they are the old members of the early solar system. Hence, comets provide a huge scope to learn about the early solar system. To be specific, its composition. We all know that the formation of the solar system is the result of changes in the solar nebula. During the formation of major bodies, all such small objects were travelling in search of some to collide with. However, some of these travelers got none and ended up becoming a tripper. They trip their ways from the sun, in order to provide us an opportunity to study. Most comets are said to come from the “Oort cloud.” Comet is a perfect example of the phrase- “old is gold.”

The information in the universe never ends. However, further information will enter into the technical part. Therefore, it is important to have an illustration for it. Considering the newest member in this quest will not be a bad idea! So, let’s welcome “Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein!” A giant comet has been discovered by Penn astronomers Pedro Bernardinelli and Gary Bernstein following a comprehensive search of data from the Dark Energy Survey (DES). According to the University of Pennsylvania, Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein is the most distant comet ever discovered and possibly the largest seen in modern times. But, how distant is this comet? Well, let’s get to it step-by-step. Here, we are going to drink a little part of a vast ocean. This article will focus mainly on orbital characteristics of the comets. Let us start by considering the shape of the orbits. There are basically four types of orbits in the universe. These four types are the four conic sections. The type/shape of an orbit depends on the semi-major axis and the eccentricity of it. Take, Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein, for instance, what is the type of its orbit? Let’s find it out. Kindly, wait for the second part- publishing on 6th July, 2021- for technical. Scroll through other stories till then.



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