You are on page 1of 2



What is a Comet? The Structure of a Comet

A comet is a small, irregularly
shaped body that consists of ice, Nucleus: This is a relatively solid and
dust, and gas. Comets have their stable body made up of mostly ice and
own orbits that move around the gas, and it is embedded into the coma.
sun at different paces. The nucleus makes up almost all the
mass of a comet, however it is very
small, having an average diameter of 10
km. When it is far away from the sun,
the nucleus is frozen, and therefore is
referred to as the “dirty iceberg”.
Meteor Showers
The Coma: This is a dense cloud of When the comet comes near
water, carbon dioxide, and other the sun, it ejects its
neutral gases that surrounds the material. The debris will
nucleus. The coma grows in brightness stay near the comet's orbit,
Comet Types: The two different and size as it approaches the sun. The forming a meteor stream.
types of comets are short- coma and the nucleus are what make When the earth's revolution
period comets and long-period up the head of a comet. around the sun intersects
comets. Short-period comets the orbit of the comet, it will
orbit the sun in less than 200 How is a Coma Created? When a comet
travel through a meteor
travels towards the sun, the heat from the
years. Long-period comets stream. When the debris
orbit the sun in 200 years or sun vaporizes some of the ice on the
enters Earth's atmosphere
surface of the nucleus. This causes the
longer. because of a gravitational
gas and dust particles from the nucleus to
pull, meteor showers are
emit into space, and create the comet’s

The Tail: This is the most distinctive part of

a comet, and can extend to 100 mi. There are
two parts to the tail: the dust tail and the ion
tail. The dust tail is created when radiation
from the sun pushes dust particles away from
the coma. This tail generally points back
along the comet’s path. The ion tail is created
by solar wind, which converts some of the
gases into ions. The ions stream away from
the coma, creating the ion tail. This tail
always points directly away from the sun.
Picture Sources:



Information Sources:

"All About Comets: Definition, Structure and Size of Comets." Find Health, Education, Science &
Technology Articles, Reviews, How-To and Tech Tips At Bright Hub. Web. 06 Apr. 2010.

Arnett, Bill. “Comets.” Nine Planets. 1 May 2003. Web. 6 Apr. 2010.

Columbia University Press. "Structure of Comets." The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. HighBeam
Research, 2007. Web. 05 Apr. 2010.

Hamilton, Calvin J. "Comet Introduction." Views of the Solar System. 1995-2009. Web. 05 Apr. 2010.

Hong Kong Observatory. "Comet." Hong Kong Observatory-Official Authority For Hong Kong Weather Forecast.
Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, 2003. Web. 05 Apr. 2010.

Nicholson, Grant. "Comet Information." Questacon. Web. 06 Apr. 2010.