DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Solar system. Illustration of the Solar System showing the planetary orbits and a comet (upper centre). From the nearest to the Sun outwards, the planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto (a Dwarf planet). The asteroid belt lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The planets orbits all lie in roughly the same plane, but the comet has a steep, eccentric orbit. Most comets are thought to reside far from the Sun, but occasional disturbances send one inwards on an elongated orbit. This comet's orbit passes very close to Earth's. It is thought a comet impact may have caused the death of the dinosaurs.
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