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He also gives an average period for a class of short-period comets of 7 years, yielding an average lifetime of around 500 years.With the average number of this class which are visible any one time, a 4.5 billion year old universe requires that at least several hundred million coments existing away from the sun have been diverted into the solar system.Paul Joss, of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ, gives a value of 70 as an average.
However, since the "young" and "old" age ranges differ by 5 1/2 orders of magnitude, it is easy to say which pieces of evidence favor which theory.Paul Joss, in the above cited reference, calculates "no," by a factor of 40,000. H Delsemme ("Origin of Short-Period Comets," Astronomy and Astrophysics, 7-381, December, 1973) calculates that the answer is "yes." Edger Everhart (University of Denver), who has reviewed both calulations and has contributed his own theories ("Evaluation of Long- and Short-periord Orbits," Comets, edited by Laurel L.Wilkening, University of Arizona Press, 1982), the answer is unknown.Second, the distribution of meteors resulting from comets is highly non-uniform around the earth's orbit, while the particles which cause the zodical light must be uniformly distributed.Lastly, and most importantly, the theory that the particle supply is constantly being replenished must make another assumption: that the rates of supply and of destruction into the sun are roughly equal.