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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the names of all comets?

The official names of non-periodic comets begin with a "C"; the names of periodic comets begin with "P" or a number followed by "P". Comets that have been lost or disappeared have names with a "D". Comets whose orbit has not been determined are designated with a "X" prefix.

Where are most comets found?

Comets are found in two main regions of the solar system: the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud. There are two types of comets: short-period comets and long-period comets. Short-period comets – comets that frequently return to the inner solar system – probably come from the Kuiper Belt beyond the orbit of Neptune.

What does comet seen in your Solar System orbit?

Comets orbit the Sun just like planets and asteroids do, except a comet usually has a very elongated orbit. As the comet gets closer to the Sun, some of the ice starts to melt and boil off, along with particles of dust . These particles and gases make a cloud around the nucleus, called a coma. The coma is lit by the Sun.

How are comets different from planets?

The orbits of comets are different from those of planets - they are elliptical. A comet's orbit takes it very close to the Sun and then far away again. The time to complete an orbit varies - some comets take a few years, while others take millions of years to complete an orbit.

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