Comet and Tail Melting
Date: 1999 - 2000
why doesn't the tail of a comet melt when it orbits the sun?
Because it's already melted. In fact, the comet head is a big
snowball mixed with dirt, and what happens when it comes near the Sun
is that the Sun starts melting it. Then all the water comes streaming
off the comet head, and the Solar wind blows it out beind the comet in
a big tail. So you see, the comet tail is already melted. It's like
the jet of steam you see coming out of your tea kettle when the water
is boiling like mad.
The tail of a comet is not a solid object; it is a cloud of gas. It
has already melted, or more likely sublimed (changed directly from a
solid to a gas) because of the heat from the sun and the vacuum in space.
Tim Mooney (firstname.lastname@example.org) (630)252-5417
Beamline Controls & Data Acquisition Group
Advanced Photon Source, Argonne National Lab
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Update: June 2012