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Where do comets come from? (Jupiter family) - Windows to the Universe

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This is an illustration of the orbits of the Jupiter Family of Comets.
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The Jupiter family of comets

Comets are observed to go around the sun in a long period of time or a short period of time. Thus they are named "long-period" or "short-period" comets.

One group of short-period comets, called the Jupiter Family of Short Period Comets, is to be found circling between Jupiter and the sun, as shown in this diagram. This family is formed under the influence of the gravity of Jupiter and the Sun, and they likely come from the Kuiper Belt.

The gravity of those two giant objects can change the original path of an incoming comet to such a tight ellipse (oval shape) that they orbit the sun in only 3-10 years.

Mathematical theory suggests that there may also be a family of short-period comets produced under the gravitational influence of the more distance solar system objects Pluto, Neptune, and Triton.


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