Asteroid vs Comet: Difference Between Smaller Bodies of Solar System

Asteroids and comets are among the most fascinating objects in our solar system. While glowing tail of dust behind a comet makes it attractive, the asteroids are seen as potential threat to our planet Earth. Both asteroids and comets are relatively smaller bodies containing matter that could not become incorporated in planets, dwarf planets or satellites. All the asteroids and comets orbit around the Sun but there are a number of significant differences between these two heavenly bodies.

Difference Between Asteroid vs Comet
Asteroid Comet
Asteroids are made of rocks and metallic substances. Comets are made of frozen gases, water ice, dust and a small rocky core.
Asteroids have elliptical orbit around the Sun. Orbit around the Sun is highly eccentric.
Distance from the Sun does not vary as much. Distance from the Sun greatly varies.
Orbital period of asteroids is few years. Orbital period of comets may vary from few years to millions of years.
Size of asteroids typically ranges from 1 to 100 km (though the largest asteroid Ceres is like a dwarf planet!) Size of a comet’s core lies typically in the range of 1-10 km.
Asteroids do not have tails. Comets develop a tail of evaporating gases and dust when they approach near the Sun
Asteroids are typically named by the discoverer. For example Giuseppe Piazzi discovered and named the asteroid called Ceres. Comets are named after their discoverers. For example, Halley’s Comet was discovered by Edmund Halley.
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