Origin And Evolution Of Comets

All observed comets make up an essentially transient system that decays and disappears almost completely in less than one million years. Since they all pass through the solar system, planetary perturbations eject a fraction of them into deep space on hyperbolic orbits and capture another fraction on short-period orbits. In turn, those that have been captured decay rapidly in the solar heat. Fortunately, there is a permanent source of new comets that maintains the steady state—namely, the outer margin of the Oort cloud. Comets within the bulk of the Oort cloud are unobservable, not only because they do not develop comas and tails but also because they are too far away.

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