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Learn about planets outside our solar system through Exoplanets and Alien Solar Systems by Tahir Yaqoob, Ph.D., a book in our online store book collection.
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 perturbs the original trajectory of an incoming comet into such a tight ellipse that they oribt 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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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA