81P/Wild

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81P/Wild
Enhanced image from the Stardust spacecraft
Enhanced image from the Stardust spacecraft
Discovery
Discovered by: Paul Wild
Discovery date: 1978
Alternative designations: 1978 XI; 1984 XIV;
1990 XXVIII
Orbital characteristics A
Epoch: March 6, 2006
Aphelion: 5.308 AU
Perihelion: 1.592 AU
Semi-major axis: 3.45 AU
Eccentricity: 0.5384
Orbital period: 6.408 a
Inclination: 3.2394°
Last perihelion: September 25, 2003
Next perihelion: 2010

Comet 81P/Wild, also known as Wild 2, is a comet named after Swiss astronomer Paul Wild (pronounced Vilt), who discovered it in 1978.

It is believed that for most of its 4.5 billion-year lifetime, Wild 2 had a more distant and circular orbit. In 1974, it passed within only about one million kilometers of the planet Jupiter, whose strong gravitational pull altered the comet's orbit and brought it into the inner solar system. Its orbital period changed from 40 years to about 6 years, and its perihelion is now about 1.59 AU (astronomical unit).

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