Name: J Miller
I am a third grader and wondering how the Earth could be thrown out of orbit
and if it ever has had this happen. What might the effects of this be?
To throw a planet out of its orbit would require some other large mass to go
by. This other mass could be a very large comet or some small planet.
There does not appear to be anything like this for millions of years. One
theory says a large object hit the Earth and it was responsible for killing
all of the dinosaurs. That would not have changed the orbit of the earth
very much. The effects of that collision seem to have been clouds of dust
that choked out the sunlight. Many scientists think this is what killed the
dinosaurs. If the orbit of the Earth changed we might have a very different
climate, depending on whether we were closer or farther from the Sun. There
appears to be little chance for these things to occur.
Samuel P Bowen
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Update: June 2012