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What are comets made of?

If you want to know what comets are made of, you have have to take the time to understand how comets are structured.

A comet is an object in space that orbits the sun across an elongated, and sometimes strange, path. These objects have a core, called a nucleus. Surrounding the comet’s nucleus like a blanket is the coma. Then, at the very end of the comet is the tail. After knowing these three parts in a comet’s structure, we can see what each part is made of.

The innermost core of a comet, the nucleus, is made up of a combination of rock, dust, ice, and frozen gases. Some of those gasses include carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), methane (CH4), and ammonia (NH3). The combination of these materials can vary. Some comets may have more dust while others may have more rock or ice. The comets with more dust are thought of as dirty snowballs in space. The nucleus can contain other compounds too, like ethanol or methanol. It is important to know that the core is rocky and frozen, because the core determines the formation of the rest of the comet’s components.

As the nucleus is warmed by the sun, the coma begins to appear, enveloping the nucleus. The heat turns some of the solid nucleus into gasses. The coma is mostly gasses, dust, and water. Some of the gasses include the same gasses found in the nucleus: hydrogen, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, ammonia, methane, and methanol. Oxygen and water are large components of the coma

The sun’s radiation pushes dust away from the coma, creating a tail. The tail, like the rest of the comet, is made of dust and gasses. Many tails are made of water, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen. Depending on the contents, the tail could be categorized into different groups. Dust that converts into ions form an ion tail. A tail of dust could be categorized as a dust tail. By pushing away dust, the comet leaves as trail of dust and debris behind it as it moves onward.

The materials that compose the comet are common in each of its parts, especially since the nucleus really determines the formation of the coma and tail. Therefore, knowing what is in the nucleus of any specific comet really helps identify what is in that comet’s coma and tail.

After knowing the parts of the comet, it is very simply to know what the comet is made of. Comets are made of water, ice, dust, and gasses likes carbon monoxide and methane. After identifying what is in the nucleus, you will know what the coma and tail are made of.

 

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