One of the brightest comets of the 20th century was Comet Hyakutake, which passed close to the sun in early 1996. The orbital period of this comet is estimated to be about 30,000 years. Find the semi-major axis of this comet’s orbit. Compare it to the average sun–Pluto distance and to the distance to Alpha Centauri, the nearest star to the sun, which is 4.3 light-years distant.

Step 1: Orbital period of the comet Hyakutake T = 30,000 years To find the semi major axis (a) of the comet The expression for the period T 3/2 T = 2a ----(1) GM S Where G - Gravitational constant (6.67 x 10 -1N. m /kg ) 30 MS Mass of Sun (1.99 x 10 kg)