What are Comets and how they are different from Asteroids?


Comets are tiny mysterious interstellar objects that are found throughout the galaxy. When a comet is near the sun, it presents a visible coma, otherwise known as a tail, which hits the solar radiation from the comet’s nucleus. Comet’s nuclei is made up of free compilations of dust, ice, and small rocky particles.

The path of the comet

The path of a comet varies from a few years to hundreds of thousands of years. Some comets pass through the Solar System once before being forced out into interstellar space. Short-period comets are believed to be created in the Kuiper belt. At the same time, long-period comets start at a considerable distance from the sun, possibly in the Oort cloud. These comets are thought to be made of debris leftover from the essence of the solar nebula. Comets are forced into the inner solar system by the gravitational push of other stars.

How to detect a comet?

The trail of debris following comets can be seen from Earth even with a naked eye. A meteor rain occurs every year between August ninth and thirteenth when the Earth crosses through the orbit of the comet Swift-Tuttle.

Difference between Asteroids and Comets

Asteroids and comets are the leftovers of a myriad of falling bodies that lived when our Solar System was a teenager (very young). Our Solar System was born about 4 billion years ago with the fall of a comparatively small dense pocket enclosed within a gigantic dark, cold molecular cloud. The lion’s share of the collapsing opening froze at the center, and ultimately caught fire due to nuclear fusion, giving birth to our Star, the sun. The residual mass smoothed out and became what is termed a protoplanetary accretion disk from which the 8 planets, their numerous bewitching comets, asteroids, moons, and other small Solar System bodies, formed.

Here are two known differences between asteroid and comets.

  1. Composition: Asteroids are made up of metals and other rocky materials. However, comets are icy, and they usually contain lots of dust. During the young days of our Solar System, Asteroids formed much closer to the sun, which was too hot for ices to remain stable. Comets formed far away from the sun, where ice would not melt. 
  2. Orbits: Comets have very long and elongated orbits, whereas asteroids have smaller, more circular orbits, and they appear to want to group in belts.


Asteroids are closer to the sun, rockier, and mostly rotate in circular orbits. Comets travel farther from the sun and are dusty and icy.

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