Orbit of comet C-2014 S3 (PANSTARRS), illustration

Orbit of comet C-2014 S3 (PANSTARRS), illustration

C035/6744 Rights Managed

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Credit: L. Calcada/EUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Restrictions: This image may not be used by or to promote the arms, nuclear power or tobacco industries or any religious organisation, or in any discriminatory way, or to imply the endorsement by ESO of any product, service or activity

Caption: Orbit of comet C-2014 S3 (PANSTARRS), illustration. This diagram shows the probable history of this comet (orbit in red) in both the inner and outer Solar System over a period of more than four billion years. The majority of this time was spent in the cold outskirts, in the Oort Cloud. Observations show that despite being on a long-period cometary orbit, this comet has the characteristics of a pristine inner Solar System asteroid. Its surface displays few or no craters. As it formed in the same region as the Earth did, it is mostly rocky, and therefore has experienced limited cometary activity. It may provide important information about the composition and conditions of the early Solar System. Image published in 2016. For the comet itself, see image C035/6743.

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