Asteroids, Comets, and Meteors

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Asteroids, Comets, and Meteors

  1. 1. Asteroids, Comets, and Meteoroids
  2. 2. Asteroids • • • • Fragments of rock that orbit the sun Orbits are ellipses Largest known asteroid is Ceres Most are located in the ‘asteroid belt’ between the planets Mars and Jupiter • Composition: – Silicate minerals (look like earth rocks) – Iron and nickel (shiny metallic appearance) – Carbon (have a dark color and are rare)
  3. 3. Comets • Small bodies of ice, rock, and cosmic dust. • Have highly elliptical orbits around the sun. • Most originate in the Oort Cloud (spherical cloud of dust and ice that lies far beyond Pluto’s orbit and that contains the nuclei of billions of comets). • Bright appearance results from sunlight reflected by the comet’s coma • Has Several Parts: – core/nucleus – Coma (together with the core form the head of the comet) – Tail (always points a way from the sun because electrically charged particles from the sun push it away)
  4. 4. Famous Comets • Halley’s Comet – Passes by Earth every 76 years – Last passed Earth in 1986 – Will return in 2061 • Comet Hale-Bopp – Passes by Earth every 5-10 years – Last passed by Earth in 1997
  5. 5. Meteoroids • A small, rocky body that travels through space. • Most have a diameter less than 1 mm. • Most meteoroids burn up in the atmosphere due to increased friction with more molecules as it gets closer to Earth.
  6. 6. Meteor • Bright streak of light caused when a meteoroid burns up in the atmosphere. • Also known as “shooting stars” (click picture) • Picture to the right is a meteor shower.
  7. 7. Meteorite • Any part of a meteoroid that is left when a meteoroid hits Earth. • Three Types of Meteorites: – Stony (similar to rocks on Earth) – Iron (metallic in appearance) – Stony-iron (contain iron and stone, are rare)

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