Comets, Asteroids, and Meteors Practice Problems

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Sep 17, 2011

Review the following concepts if needed:

Comets, Asteroids, and Meteors Practice Problems

A good score is 8 correct. Answers are provided at the end.

1. Major asteroid impacts on the planets

(a) have never occurred in our Solar System.

(b) take place only on Jupiter and Saturn.

(c) were once commonplace in the Solar System.

(d) produce new comets.


2. A comet might be expected to suddenly become brighter if

(a) all the icy material in the nucleus has evaporated.

(b) the tail passes through the corona of the Sun.

(c) a solar flare occurs.

(d) its perihelion takes it outside the orbit of the Earth.


3. A spherical swarm of millions or billions of distant comets that surrounds the Solar System is known as the

(a) Van Allen belt.

(b) Oort cloud.

(c) primeval Solar System disk.

(d) tektite belt.


4. A small asteroid or massive meteoroid that crashes into the Moon can produce

(a) a comet shower.

(b) a new comet.

(c) a crater with rays.

(d) an Oort cloud around the Moon.


5. The “dirty snowball” model for the structures of comets is sometimes credited to

(a) Fred Whipple.

(b) Giuseppe Piazzi.

(c) Johann E. Bode.

(d) Johann D. Titius.


6. A meteorite

(a) has the potential to become a meteor.

(b) is like a meteor, except smaller.

(c) is a meteor that strikes the surface of the Earth.

(d) becomes a meteoroid if it is captured by the gravitational field of a planet.


7. The radiant of a meteor shower

(a) is always straight overhead.

(b) is fixed with respect to the constellations.

(c) is opposite the direction of the Earth’s motion through space.

(d) depends on the number of meteors that fall each hour.


8. The asteroids were discovered in part because astronomers were searching for a planet to fit the orbital “slot” at 2.8 AU based on

(a) the trajectories of fallen meteorites.

(b) the behavior of the moons of Jupiter.

(c) the distribution of impact craters on the Moon.

(d) a mathematical formula developed by Titius and Bode.


9. After a comet has passed perihelion,

(a) the tail follows behind the nucleus.

(b) the tail streams out ahead of the nucleus.

(c) it breaks up into meteoroids.

(d) its coma grows larger and brighter.


10. The Kuiper belt

(a) lies outside the orbit of Neptune.

(b) lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

(c) is an intense region of radiation around Jupiter.

(d) is where comets go to die.



1. C

2. C

3. B

4. C

5. A

6. C

7. B

8. D

9. B

10. A

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