Comets Come From?
Comets have two "homes"
or source areas. Most comets reside outside the Solar System, in a
large spherical region called the Oort Cloud. It is named after
Jan Oort, the Dutch astronomer who first proposed its existence. The
Oort Cloud is very far away, between 5 to 8 trillion kilometers from
the Sun. It probably contains trillions of comets, all of which are
leftovers from the formation of the Solar System. Most comets stay in
the Oort Cloud. However, when disturbed by gravity or collisions,
a comet may drop into the Solar System, where we can see it.
The second home of comets is the Kuiper
Belt, named after the American astronomer Gerard Kuiper. The
Kuiper Belt is a ring of comets within the Solar System, between the
orbits of Neptune and Pluto. Like the Oort Cloud, Kuiper Belt comets
are remnants from the forming Solar System. They travel in toward the
Sun when disturbed by the gravity of nearby planets. Halley’s Comet,
which is visible from Earth about every 75 years, and Comet Hale-Bopp
are both Kuiper Belt comets.