Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Comets

Ever since the beginning of time, people have looked up and wondered what comets are and how they function. We now know that comets are the leftovers from planets in our solar system about 4.6 billion years ago. Each comet has a nucleus in the center, which is made up of icy chunks and frozen gasses with bits of embedded dust. When the comet nears the sun, it heats up and an atmosphere is created around it. This new atmosphere is now the “tail” of the comet. There are actually two tails to a comet-- the dust tail and the ion (gas) trail. Most of these comets travel a safe distance from the sun, but some comets can come really close to the sun or crash right into it. NASA’s stardust mission flew within 147 miles of the nucleus of a comet and collected particles along with dust samples and brought them back down to Earth. These stardust samples made experts think that comets may be more complex than once thought. The samples suggested that materials from the inner regions of the solar system traveled to the outer regions where comets form. ~ Brandon Smith


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