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Chapter 18.docx

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Earth Sciences
Earth Sciences 1086F/G
Deana Schwarz

Chapter 18 – Comets Intro - What is it? o Small icy object o Frozen gases vaporize as it falls, leaving a trail - Why study? o Oldest bodies in solar system o They probably brought amino acids o For life to exist, liquid water must exist Comets - Anatomy o Nucleus – hard to measure  Made of dust and frozen gas  Irregular bodies with large voids  Not strong o Coma  Solid ice turns to vapor and makes atmosphere  Around icy nucleus  Closer to sun, bigger it gets  Part of coma goes into elongated tail  This determines nucleus composition • Mostly water • Refractory shit made of CHON  Coma and nucleus make head o Tail  Two of them • Dust tail – small dust reflects light • Ion tail – blue, glowing gas, long, pushed away from sun • Dust tail pushed away from orbit, ion tail pushed away from sun - Orbits o Long-period comets – millions of years to orbit sun  Prograde, retrograde, all inclinations and orientations o Short-period comets – 200 years or less  Prograde near ecliptic - Life and death o Short period comets  Nuclei loses mass fast (will kill halley)  Gravitational control of planets (Lexell and Jupiter) • Dynamical lifetime of ½ million years o 2 choices  Comets made outside solar system and put into ours  Made in our solar system and stored in Oort Cloud of Kuiper Belt • Or scattered disc area between the two Origin of Comets - From scatted disc area past the Kuiper Belt - Long period comets from Oort Cloud - They either orbit sun, hi
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