Man has viewed comets for centuries with fear and awe. Comets are the most amazing phenomenon that can be seen in the night sky (some are visible during the day). A comet is a celestial body composed of ice and rocks. The frozen material evaporates as the comet approaches the sun and, driven away by the solar wind, forms the comet's tail. One such comet called Halley's Comet is one of the most famous of the comets that was discovered by Edmund Halley (1656-1742), an English astronomer who treated comets as physical bodies moving about the sun in orbits consistent with Newton's newly-propounded law of gravitation. This comet travels around the sun every 76 years and has last been seen in 1986.
The fear of comets as omens of death existed in most ancient cultures. Indeed, comets were called "disasters", which in the Greek means "evil" (dis) "star" (aster). Ancient cultures feared comets more than eclipses. When Halley's Comet appeared in 1910, some people panicked around the world; a few even committed suicide. There was even a man selling "comet protection pills" in Texas until he was arrested by the police. Elsewhere, some people quit their jobs or locked themselves in their homes as the comet approached. Some thought the end of life on planet earth would come when the earth passed through the comet's tail. This week in May we are traveling through debris trail of Halley's Comet left over from its last visit in February 1986. Watch the night sky for meteors.
How does science explain the origins of comets? Where did they come from? How did they originate? Here is some modern theories that have been proposed to explain the origin of comets.
Oort Cloud Theory : The Oort Cloud, named for the Dutch astronomer Jan Oort, is a hypothesized collection of "iceballs" formed from interstellar dust, reaching as far out as 1,000 times the distance of Pluto from the sun. These "iceballs" formed about 4.5 billion years ago when the solar system began to form.
Exploded Planet Theory : A tenth planet once existed between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. It exploded about 3.2 billion years ago, spewing out comets and asteroids. Many fragments collided with the other planets and moons explaining why some planets and moons are cratered on one side.
Volcanic Eruption Theory : Volcanic eruptions, probably from the giant planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune) or their moons, periodically launch comets.
Meteor Stream Theory : Particles orbiting the sun collide and exchange some energy and momentum. After millions of years, these particles form meteor streams. As this meteor stream passes through the cold outer solar system, water vapor condenses, thus, icy comets from continuously.
Interstellar Capture Theory : Comets form when the sun occasionally passes through interstellar gas and dust clouds. The sun's gravity deflects and focuses these particles around and behind the sun where they collide with each other, lose velocity, enter orbits around the sun and merge into distinct swarms of particles held together by their mutual gravity. These swarms later become comets with long and short periods.
Hydroplate Theory : Comets are literally from this world. As the global Flood of Noah's time began, the extreme pressure in the interconnected subterranean chambers and the power of supercritical water exploding into the vacuum of space launched material that later merge to become comets. As this material of rocks and water shot out into space some hit the moon and formed craters and large basins on it.
To proposition that science has all the answers for origins, and that those answers dispose involvement of God as Creator, seems somewhat premature and not validated as a hypothesis. Why not perform research to find out, What is true on the topic of comets or any other topic? In the words of Jesus : ask, seek, and knock (Matthew 7:7).
The argument that science has shown there is no Creator, seem less and less valid a claim as we learn more of what actually is true and investigate more evidence.
"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork" (Psalm 19:1)(KJV).