does a comet have a stable orbit? what stops a comet from colliding with the earth?
- MorningfoxLv 71 year agoFavorite Answer
Comet orbits are pretty much stable, as long as they don't get to close to a planet, or hit an asteroid. Comets don't hit Earth, almost all the time, because the Earth is very small compared to its orbit. I would say that 100 million comets could pass through the inner solar system before there was a 50/50 chance of a hit. Just about all the comets that could hit, actually did hit billions of years ago. The ones that are left are in orbits that miss the Earth.
Since only abut 10 comets come into the inner solar system per year, I think we're safe for many millions of years.
- RetiefLv 71 year ago
Most comets are relatively stable, they orbit the sun but can be perturbed by the planets (most notably Jupiter).
But comets are rare and the Earth is a very small target so the chances of one hitting the Earth are very small.
- 1 year ago
A comet can have a stable orbit and still connect with earth in our stable orbit. Many comets cross our orbit. It is all a question of whether we both inhabit the same bit of occupied space at the same time. Then BOOM!
- PaulaLv 71 year ago
Comets have stable orbits.
But the orbit can be changed by the gravity of a planet or other solar system body - and that includes the sun is approached very closely.
What stops collisions is that comets mostly do not orbit in the same plane as the earth.
But interactions with a planet etc can still perturb the orbit enough to make a collision possible.
And the meteor showers that we have are caused by the earth crossong the orbit of a comet. That is good evidence that some comets can collide with earth.
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- 1 year ago
If unperturbed by a gravitational source - of a planet, a moon, or perhaps being impacted by some other body, then yes - their orbit will be stable. (Like Halley's comet - a very predictable periodic comet...)
Comets likely *have* collided with Earth in the past - if both of their orbital paths intersect at some point at the same time - a collision will happen.
- AmyLv 71 year ago
Most comets have stable, but highly elliptical orbits. However, stability is not a necessity - the category "comet" is defined by their tails, not by orbital characteristics.
Nothing stops them from colliding with Earth. There's a theory that the large amount of water on Earth came from crashed comets. However, Earth is tiny compared to the amount of space the comet travels through, so it doesn't get hit very often - especially with larger targets like the Sun and Jupiter around. In my lifetime, one comet has hit Jupiter.
- Bobby JimLv 71 year ago
Generally speaking, yes, comets have stable orbits. Their orbits are much greater than that of Earth's which is why we see Haley's Comet (for instance) only every 75 or 76 years. Halley's comet was recorded by Edmund Halley in 1682. It was seen again in 1758, 1835, 1910, and 1986. Its next viewing from Earth is expected in 2062. It too, orbits the sun.
- 1 year ago
For the time being, the asteroid belt is mostly stable, as are Jupiter's two Trojan ... To collide, orbits need to cross and mostly the inner solar system objects don't ... Without Jupiter nearby, long-period comets would collide with our planet much .
- DON WLv 71 year ago
Relatively stable--that's how astronomers can predict when it will next be visible from Earth. But, the orbit will gradually be influenced by the Sun and by any planets it goes by. It also gets progressively smaller each time it passes by the Sun, which will gradually influence its orbit.
Sadly, there is nothing keeping them from colliding with the Earth--that's one reason astronomers have been sending probes to passing comets, to learn more about their composition. Happily, there are no known comets on a collision course with Earth.