do comet trajectories change due to the 'jets' of gases they emit?

as comets approach the sun they start to melt.

as they melt they out gas their water and other volatile elements.

can this discharge be great enough to change their calculated orbits as they make the turn around the sun?

4 Answers

  • 8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Yes, and in unpredictable ways. For this reason exact predictions of where a comet will be at some time in the future is not as accurate as for planets or asteroids. I seem to recall hearing that the time of perihelion passages for comet Halley have been off what we predicted by as much as 3 days. But 3 says in a 76 year orbit is not SO far off. The jet effects are small compared to the total momentum of the comet.

  • 8 years ago

    Yes - the mass ejected from the comet causes a reaction that changes the comet's velocity (and hence orbit)

    As an extreme example - blow up a balloon and then let go without tying it up - the hole represents a vent through which the volatile substances are expelled.

    Do you think it will change orbit? (direction)?

    Whether the orbit will change significantly of course depends on the amount of substances expelled and their velocity.

    Note that orbits in the solar system are inherently chaotic and a small change in velocity can ultimately result in massive changes. e.g. passing closer to a planet

  • 8 years ago

    Gas vents from comets create reactive force that tend to change the comets direction.

  • Triton
    Lv 4
    8 years ago

    If it did, you could count the number of future orbits in small integers.

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