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Comets (Existing Populations)

  • Ľ. Kresák (a1)

Abstract

The definition, population, extent, origin and evolution of the individual subsystems of comets and transitions between them are discussed, together with presentation of the relevant statistical data and their changes with time. The largest outer subsystems are unobservable, but their existence is documented by the necessity of progressive replenishment of the observable populations, with limited survival times. There is persuasive evidence for two different evolutionary paths, one from the Oort cloud and another from the Kuiper belt. While the extent and accuracy of the data available is increasing rapidly, the Jupiter family of comets is the only one for which the evolutionary time scales do not exceed by many orders of magnitude the history of astronomical observations. The individual comet populations differ from one another not only by the distribution of orbits, but also by the size distribution and aging rate of their members. Their dynamical evolution is coupled with disintegration processes, which make it questionable whether the present state can be interpreted as a long-term average.

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References

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Comets (Existing Populations)

  • Ľ. Kresák (a1)

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