What is the difference between a comet, a meteor and an asteroid


Expert explains

BBC Science Focus Magazine contributor Holly Spanner explains how to tell different space objects apart. For example, an asteroid, a comet and a meteor.

In general, there are many varieties of cosmic bodies. This is an asteroid, and a comet, and a meteoroid, and many others. But on what grounds do they differ?

Asteroids are small rocky objects. Most often they have an irregular shape. Such objects remained after the formation of the solar system. An example of such an object is the asteroid Bennu.

A comet is a large icy body. They consist of dust, frozen gases, stones. The comet also has an icy core. Such bodies revolve around the Sun along trajectories in the form of an ellipse. When approaching the Sun, they heat up, and as a result, a “tail” characteristic of a comet is formed. One of the most famous comets is Halley. It can next be seen in July 2061.

There is also a meteoroid . This is an object consisting of fragments of comets and asteroids. When it enters the atmosphere, it burns up, and this is the meteor , or shooting star.

A meteor shower can be seen when several celestial bodies burn up in our planet’s atmosphere.


What is the difference between a comet, a meteor and an asteroid

A fireball is a very bright meteor that can be seen over a wide area. Meteorites are meteoroids that have fallen to the Earth’s surface.

There is also such a designation of celestial objects as “dwarf planet” . This is a planet that fits several characteristics. It is located in orbit around the Sun, has a round or almost round shape, is not a satellite, and is not massive enough to be called a planet.

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