Do comets differ depending on the star they orbit?

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Gregg Abramovich

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Gregg Abramovich  asked the Naked Scientists:
Hi Chris and/or Naked Scientist team.

I was wondering if there have been studies of comets in other solar systems beyond ours, or perhaps theories as far as how comets may differ in the way they travel and as far as how their composition might be different depending upon the star(s) orbited.

For instance, how may a comet travel in a binary star system? Would it have a shorter life perhaps?


Gregg A.

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 02/03/2010 19:30:02 by _system »


Offline syhprum

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Do comets differ depending on the star they orbit?
« Reply #1 on: 02/03/2010 21:00:36 »
I think that comets are too small to resolve with present day technology which can barely resolve earth size planets.


Offline Soul Surfer

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Do comets differ depending on the star they orbit?
« Reply #2 on: 02/03/2010 22:19:08 »
Comets are not even observable for most of their orbit in our solar system so they are definitely observable in other solar systems.

The solar observation satellites show that comets fall into the sun quite frequently  (this has absolutely no effect on the sun which could swallow the earth and nothing much would happen) so comets falling into other stars is probably quite commonplace and also unobservable.

Collisions between stars are extremely rare events and none have yet been observed with any degree of certainty.  Mass transfers between close binary stars are much more common.

the composition of comets close to any star is most likely to be similar to the saar or other nearby dust clouds.  this can vary quite a lot in different parts of the galaxy and is observable.

The possible orbits of comets are easily predictable theoretically and there would be a higher probability of unstable orbits.
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