Giant comets lying within outer planetary region of Solar System pose much greater hazard than asteroids

Giant comets lying within outer planetary region of Solar System pose much greater hazard than asteroids

A group of astronomers from Armagh Observatory and the University of Buckingham have reported that the discovery of hundreds of huge comets in the outer planetary system during past 20 years are the indicators that these objects pose a quite bigger threat to life as compared to asteroids.

The team included Professor Mark Bailey of Armagh Observatory, Professors Bill Napier and Duncan Steel of the University of Buckingham, and Dr David Asher, also at Armagh. They have published the recent research’s review in the December issue of Astronomy and Geophysics, which is the journal of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The huge comets, known as centaurs, move on uneven orbits that cross the paths of the huge outer planets Uranus, Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune. At times, the planetary gravitational fields can deflect these objects in towards our planet.

Generally, centaurs are 50 to 100 kilometres across, or bigger. A single such body has more mass as compared to the total population of Earth-crossing asteroids discovered so far.

Measurements of the rate at which centaurs make an entry into the inner solar system have indicated that one will be deflected onto a path that cross the orbit of Earth about once in every 40,000 to 100,000 years.

At the same time in near-Earth space they are likely to fall apart into dust and massive fragments that will flood the inner solar system with cometary debris and would make inevitable impacts on Earth.

Discovery News reported that, most studies of potential Earth-smashers focus on objects in the asteroid belt roughly between Mars, Earth's outside neighbour, and Jupiter on its other flank, said the researchers.
But they noted that the discovery in the last two decades of hundreds of giant comets dubbed centaurs, albeit with much larger orbits, requires expanding the list of potential hazards.

According to a report from the Yahoo, Planet Earth could be at higher risk of a space rock impact than widely thought, according to astronomers who suggested Tuesday keeping a closer eye on distant giant comets. Most studies of potential Earth-smashers focus on objects in the asteroid belt roughly between Mars, Earth's outside neighbour, and Jupiter on its other flank, said the researchers.

But they noted that the discovery in the last two decades of hundreds of giant comets dubbed centaurs, albeit with much larger orbits, requires expanding the list of potential hazards.

In other news I4U reported, Hundreds of giant comets discovered in outer space pose a much greater hazard to life than asteroids. Giant comets pose huge threat for life on Earth and they could potentially be more devastating than asteroids, astronomers warn after having a close look at giant comets in outer space.

A team of astronomers from Armagh Observatory and the University of Buckingham reports that in the last two decades hundreds of giant comets, also called centaurs, have been discovered in outer planetary system.