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Jupiter as seen by HST, 1997
Jupiter as seen
by HST, 1997

The Bully Planet

The larger a planet, the more it can bully a comet or asteroid. Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, has more than twice the mass of all the other planets combined. You can imagine the enormous gravitational tug Jupiter can exert on a small comet or asteroid!

The Earth also can tug at passing comets or asteroids. But Jupiter has much more influence on such relatively small objects. If we say that Jupiter is the bully exerting tremendous pull on passing objects, picture what our Sun does. The Sun is 100 times more massive than Jupiter the bully!

Words from a Scientist: Carolyn Shoemaker

"Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 was a beautiful comet, and the week of the crash, when it joined Jupiter, is not to be forgotten. We were glad so many could enjoy the fireworks. Since then, our search for comets and little planets called asteroids has continued."