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  Comet and Asteroid: Astronomy: Comet and Asteroid - COMET AND ASTEROID IMPACTS
Posted on Wednesday, December 01 @ 15:21:08 CST by astronomy
 
 
  Comet and Asteroid

COMET AND ASTEROID IMPACTS

Comets and asteroids are fascinating not just for what they are, but also for what they can do.



COMET AND ASTEROID IMPACTS

Comets and asteroids are fascinating not just for what they are, but also for what they can do.

In July 1994, 21 fragments of Comet Shoemaker- Levy 9 collided with Jupiter, one about every six hours. The impacts produced energy greater than the combined force of every nuclear weapon on Earth, providing a graphic demonstration of what could happen if such an object were to strike our planet.

The Jupiter collisions brought comet impacts to the forefront of research by planetary astronomers and geologists, and offered a revised view of the evolution of life on Earth. Instead of a smooth, gradually changing process, it now appears that life on Earth progressed erratically. Long periods of relative stability were punctuated by periods of sudden change, possibly produced by comet and asteroid impacts.

We live in a peaceful time in Solar System history. Our sky is almost unchanging, with bright comets appearing only about once a decade. However, it was not always this way—the youthful Solar System was a violent place and the Earth was so hot that all its organic materials were vaporized away. As Earth cooled down, its sky was crammed with bright comets, and major impacts took place often.

 
 
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