Comets In The Post-Newtonian Era

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Before the seventeenth century, comets were considered portents-warning shots fired at a sinful Earth from the right hand of an avenging God. However, in the post-Newtonian era, when their paths were understood to intersect that of the Earth, they were considered actual agents of destruction. Experts have described comets as the carriers of both life-seeds to the early Earth and horrific missiles that will one day snuff out life as we know it. At one time or another, people have blamed comets for war and held responsible for the deaths of men, the birth of good wine, the London fire of 1666, severely cold weather, etc . . . If one central theme runs throughout history of comets, it must be the public concern they have commanded.…show more content…
184). One interesting contribution of the comet is the solar effect. The process starts by a comet approaching the sun. Once the comet approaches the sun, solar heat sublimates, or evaporates, the ices. This causes the comet to brighten enormously. Sometimes this develops a brilliant tail, extending millions of kilometers into space. Even as the comet recedes again, the tail is directed away from the sun. What are these spectacular comet tails composed of? Comet tails are made up of simple ionized molecules, including carbon monoxide and dioxide. By action of solar wind, molecules are blown away, forming a thin stream of hot gases continuously ejected from the solar corona. In case you do not know the meaning of a solar corona, it is the outermost atmosphere of the Sun. Amazingly, the thin streams of high gases move at a speed of approximately 400 kilometers (250 miles) per second (as cited in Yeomans 1991 p. 185). In addition, a comet frequently also displays smaller, curved tails composed of fine dust particles blown from the coma by the pressure of solar

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