Risk of a Comet hitting Earth is higher than thought, Astronomers say

Risk of a Comet hitting Earth is higher than thought, Astronomers say

Armagh Observatory and the University of Buckingham’s team of researchers have reported that hundreds of big comets’ discovery in the outer planetary system in the previous two decades means that the objects pose a quite more danger to life than asteroids.

The team included Professor Mark Bailey of Armagh Observatory, Professors Bill Napier and Duncan Steel of the University of Buckingham, and Dr David Asher, also at Armagh. They have published the recent research’s review in the December issue of Astronomy and Geophysics, which is the journal of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The huge comets, known as centaurs, move on uneven orbits that cross the paths of the huge outer planets Uranus, Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune. At times, the planetary gravitational fields can deflect these objects in towards our planet.

Generally, centaurs are 50 to 100 kilometres across, or bigger. A single such body has more mass as compared to the total population of Earth-crossing asteroids discovered so far.

Measurements of the rate at which centaurs make an entry into the inner solar system have indicated that one will be deflected onto a path that cross the orbit of Earth about once in every 40,000 to 100,000 years.

At the same time in near-Earth space they are likely to fall apart into dust and massive fragments that will flood the inner solar system with cometary debris and would make inevitable impacts on Earth.



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