Giant Comets Pose Biggest Celestial Threat To Earth

Posted: Dec 24 2015, 5:53am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News


Giant Comets Pose Biggest Celestial Threat to Earth
Because they are so distant from the Earth, Centaurs appear as pinpricks of light in even the largest telescopes. Saturn's 200-km moon Phoebe, depicted in this image, seems likely to be a Centaur that was captured by that planet's gravity at some time in the past. Until spacecraft are sent to visit other Centaurs, our best idea of what they look like comes from images like this one, obtained by the Cassini space probe orbiting Saturn. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute.
  • Study claims hundreds of giant comets pose biggest celestial threat to Earth ever!

The study was published by researchers from the Armagh Observatory and the University of Buckingham.

A recently published new study claims giant comets pose a threat to the earth. Hundreds of giant comets were discovered in the outer planetary system.

A team of astronomers discovered them over the last two decades. The team consisted of members from the Armagh Observatory and the University of Buckingham.

The researchers claim the objects pose a much greater hazard to life than asteroids. Researchers Professors Bill Napier and Duncan Steel were from the University of Buckingham.

While Professor Mark Bailey and Dr David Asher were from the Armagh Observatory. The researchers published their findings in December issue of Astronomy & Geophysics (A&G). A&G is the journal of the Royal Astronomical Society. 

The massive comets have been termed as centaurs. The centaurs move on unstable orbits. They cross the paths of the massive outer planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

Occasional planetary gravitational fields deflect these objects towards Earth. The Centaurs are usually 50 to 100 kilometres in size. Calculations based on their rate indicate one will deflect onto a path crossing the Earth’s orbit. The deflection will occur once every 40,000 to 100,000 years.

Meanwhile they are expected to disintegrate into dust and larger fragments in near-Earth space. Such a phenomenon could flood the inner solar system with cometary debris. The impact of the debris with the earth would be inevitable. 

Episodes of upheaval around 10,800 BCE and 2,300 BCE have been already identified. According to geologists and palaeontologists, dinosaurs extinction may be associated with this hypothesis. The giant comet hypothesis presumably already occurred on Earth 65 million years ago. 

This new research got published in the December issue of Astronomy & Geophysics (A&G), the journal of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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