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Living with the StarsHow the Human Body is Connected to the Life Cycles of the Earth, the Planets, and the Stars$
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Karel Schrijver and Iris Schrijver

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198727439

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198727439.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 26 September 2021

Tails in the Wind

Tails in the Wind

(p.146) (p.147) 11 Tails in the Wind
Living with the Stars

Karel Schrijiver

Iris Schrijiver

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores what comets tell us about the history of the solar system and about the Sun’s outermost atmosphere through which Earth orbits its life-sustaining star. Comets are frozen bits of history, dating back to the formation of the solar system, some 4.6 billion years ago. They come from the far reaches of the solar system, the Oort cloud, as clumps of galactic matter are pulled from their distant orbits, becoming comets in the solar wind, meteors when they descend into a planet’s atmosphere, and meteorites upon impact with the planet’s surface. The dusty gas cloud around a comet’s core is pushed by pressure from sunlight and the solar wind, and this creates the comet’s tails. Material from small comets falls onto the Earth continually. Each cell in a human body of average age contains about 3000 carbon atoms from comets that fell to the Earth within the past few decades

Keywords:   comet, solar wind, meteor, Oort cloud, solar system

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