New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge

Shiprock High School

                                                                                                        Team Member:
                                                                                                                                    1. Valerie Pettigrew

                                                                                                                                    1. Mrs. Noble
                                                                                                                                    2. Mrs. Hines
                                                                                                                                    3. Mrs. Johnson

Executive Summary

    My research and study is on a comet. Comet Halley is one of the unique comets found in our solar system. What’s interesting about Comet Halley that this comet is darker than any other comets found in outer space which gives the reflection of the moonlight, that most people wonder why the moon has a stunning glow to it.

What is a comet?

    A comet is a vast cloud of form of dust and gas formed outside of our atmosphere. The type of gasses combined through the black dust is hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen: Iron, carbon, silicon, water, methane, ammonia, and many other elements are gathered to form a solid mixture which a portion is gathered at the center of the cloud and pulled there by the effect on gravity. The larger the comet is formed in the center, the stronger it is pulled and the greater gravitational effect it will have on it. The thermonuclear action reaction occurs through this process by the infant Sun. The Sun compacts a mass of gust where temperatures rise to a million degrees. A comet follows a path with the Sun in the atmosphere, which makes the comet have greater energy to it.  The hydrogen atoms are stripped into sub atomic components and rebuild them with a new element called helium. Once this element is formed, it cannot be cracked into pieces.

 The process of the mixtures formation gives great qualities of energy that would generate at the center, keeping both nuclear reactions going and counteracting the tendency for it to shrink into a much smaller size. A comet is basically a huge block of ice with dust grain embedded by the atmosphere.


    My project is about the comet Halley discovered in late19th century by Edmond Halley and therefore named after him in 1705. Halley’s Comet is very unique from other comets facts found by that tail structure, the low density of Halley’s nucleus, the nucleus of the comet, the active orbit system, and Comet Halley was only possible to see the surrounding opaque gas cloud called coma. Following what Edmond Halley’s theory on Newton’s law on finding out the gravitational effect the comet has based on a follow up of time. Understanding the process of gravitational forces of the Sun attracting to the planets is used in Newton’s theory. I hope to predict the next perihelion after the year 2062. The next perihelion would occur in 2138 most likely.


    Using Newton’s theory of gravitation to determine the orbit of Halley’s Comet from the recorded position in the sky as a function of time


Project Description


    Using Newton’s theory on gravitational effect on comet Halley’s orbit system, I would try to find out if I can work with this procedure to see the next perihelion. The next perihelion I would include is to determine if the comet would reach earth and if it would crash or explode in the atmosphere. I would also like to explore whether the comet would crash in 2062 and would it be a devastating effect on earth.

My goal for this project to gain more knowledge about the comet Halley and to analyze the comet’s past perihelion to define Newton’s Laws on gravitational effect on Halley’s Comet. I would also determine if the comet would have an effect on Earth in 2062 when its next appearance would occur such as a meteor shower. Conducting information I used the Internet sites to find some data on the comet from different types of spacecrafts who studied Halley’s comet.

I chose this project because I am concerned about what goes on in our atmosphere. What made me so interested in Halley’s comet is that it is one the darkest gust in our solar system and understanding what Newton’s Laws were on gravitational effect in Halley’s orbit system.


    The program used for my project is Java. Using java would help me figure out the results on my project and would help me present my conclusions. Starting with Newton’s Laws on gravitation I would be figuring out the force of two objects attracting each other. In my case I would use that planets attracting to the Sun. The greater the force would attract to the Sun the more effect it will have on that object. The farther away the object appears from the Sun the more likely it would have less energy. Halley comet appears to move close to the Sun during the time be was formed based on the observations during 1986. The more massive the object was, the more gravitational force it felt, but the more massive it was the more it became a resistant to the force of gravity. Newton’s second law of force would define the measurement of force as the mass of an object times its acceleration. Using Newton’s second law would determine that Halley’s comet mass would show its speed it would have and the direction that comet’s orbit would head. It would also help conclude the amount of force that is applied to the Comet.


still in process....


still in process....


    Using Newton’s first law is highly explainable in determining a comets perihelion distances, mass of the orbit system, understanding the comets astronomical unit based on the studies found on the object. This assumption would help with determining a planets connection with the Sun (aphelion). Also, would determine the gravitational force of two objects attracting to one another by the amount of gravitational masses each object would have to one another. The universal law of gravitation explains that this formula would explain the motions of all the planets according to one measurable force. This formula is known as inertia (also known as Newton’s first law of inertia).

 Newton’s second law explained the measurement of force as the mass of an object times the speed or direction of an object of a certain mass, at rest of uniform motion, would be changed by the amount of force given an object (also known as the acceleration of the object).

 Using both of these laws would help present certain masses in our solar system with its connection to two different object found in our atmosphere.


     I would like to thank those who took time and their effort in helping me with my project. I couldn’t have done it with out your help. My thanks go to the Supercomputing Staff, also my sponsors, Mrs. Hines, Mrs. Noble, and Mrs. Johnson, for making this project more understandable to me, and leading me through it. Mr. Eric Ovaska in helping the students in supercomputing by introducing Java to us and helping us build a coding for our project. I would also like to thank Dr. Anderson who helped me with my project in finding a math model. Levi Valdez who is one of the ones I’d like to thank for taking his time in helping me with my project and for being a great help with others as well. I appreciate you all for helping me with my project and keeping me more focused on my coding and finding a solution on Halley’s comet.


Books & encyclopedias

    • Muirden, James (1985) Observer’s Guide to Halley’s Comet
       (James Muirden) Copyright 1985 by James Muirden
       Published by Arco Publishing, Inc
       213 Park Avenue South, New York, N.Y. 10003

    • Walz-Chojnacki, Greg (1985) Comet The Story Behind Halley’s Comet
      (Gareth Stevens) Copyright (1984) Richard Berry
      Published by AstroMedia Corp.
      625 E. St. Paul Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53223

    • Ridpath, Ian (1986) The Concise Handbook of Astronomy
      (Ian Ridpath) Copyright (1986) Multimedia Publications (UK) Ltd 1986
      Text Copyright Ian Ridpath.

    • Roberts, Jeremy (2001) The Law of Motion
      (Jeremy Roberts) Copyright (2001) The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc.
      29 East 21st Street, New York, NY 10010

    •  Lewis, James (1994) The Astrology Encyclopedia
       (James R. Lewis) Copyright (1994), 2003 by Visible Ink Press
       4331 Joy Road #414 Canton, MI 48187-2075

World Wide Web Sites:

    • http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=ISQ8859-1&q=Pictures+of+Halleys+Comet

    • http://search.yahoo.com/bin/search?p=Halley%27s+comet

    • http://seds.lpl.arizona.edu/nineplanets/nineplanets/halley.html

    • http://csep10.phys.utk.edu/astr161/lect/comets/halley.html

    • http://www.awesome80s.com/Awesome80s/Science/Space/Halley’sComet.asp_

Appendix A  –  Code

import UserInput;

public class halleyscomet

         public static void main (String args[])
         System.out.println("Halley's Comet");
Still in process…

Appendix  B  –  Sample A Coding

    The coding I’ll use for this experiment is Newton’s Laws. Where the force of gravity is of masses of two objects are multiplied by the distance between the two objects. The distance between the two objects is divided by the constant number discovered until a century later. This coding would calculate the elliptical orbits for the planets and would determine the expression in this formula that all motions of all the planets according to one measurable force.

Newton’s first law of inertia

                                                     F = G  mm1

Newton’s second law

    Newton’s second law defined the measurement of force as the mass of object times its acceleration, and is expressed in the formula:

                               F = ma

    F would be the force of gravity, m is the mass, and a is acceleration. The acceleration is the speed of the object or direction of an object of a certain mass, at rest or in uniform motion, is changed is directly proportional to the amount of force applied to it.

Appendix  C  –  Comet Halley’s Coding