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If a comet is half the size of the earth and it comes too close to it, would it cause any disruption to the earth at all?
Question Date: 2017-04-16
Answer 1:

The short answer is definitely yes. The comet is half the size, and that's quite big. The mass could be much smaller than Earth, probably only 0.1% or less compared to the mass of Earth, but still non-negligible. Basically what you imagined is another version of moon to Earth, slightly larger in size but lighter (density of a comet is usually smaller than Earth). You already know that how important the moon is to our daily lives. Imagine another moon that could affect the Earth.

Let's think about two possibilities: the comet will be captured or escape from the Earth. It is apparent that it will have a huge impact if the comet is captured. The worst scenario would be that the comet will hit the Earth, and you know that would be a big disaster. Another scenario would be the comet is captured but not hitting the Earth, or the comet ended up with orbiting around the Earth. Since the mass of the comet is not that small and depending on how close the comet is to the Earth, it could affect the spinning and orbital of the Earth around the sun. And there are other possible effects because of the gravitation from the comet.

Another scenario is the comet will escape from the Earth. Since it is only temporary, the disruption would be much smaller than the scenarios introduced before.

In short, depending on how fast the comet travels and how close it is to the Earth, it could have different levels of disruption to the Earth.


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