The discovery of hundreds of giant comets in the outer solar system over the last two decades means that these objects pose a much greater hazard to life than asteroids.
Because they are so distant from Earth, Centaurs appear as pinpricks of light in even the largest telescopes. Saturn's 200 kilometer moon Phoebe, depicted in this image, seems likely to be a Centaur that was captured by that planet's gravity at some time in the past. Until spacecraft are sent to visit other Centaurs, our best idea of what they look like comes from images like this one, obtained by the Cassini space probe orbiting Saturn. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, having flown past Pluto six months ago, has been targeted to conduct an approach to a 45-kilometer-wide trans-Neptunian object at the end of 2018.
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Born in Long Island public school year in Sweden as exchange student, went to Harvard one year, Cooper Union in NYC as Art student. Have two children, one of whom is rock mogul, the other has three daughters, one of whom has two daughters, making me (more...