Wondering Why?

Why Do Comets Have Tails?

Why Do Comets Have Tails?

A distinct feature of a comet is its tail. It is composed of luminous materials that extend to millions of miles as it approaches the sun. As it goes farther from the heat of the sun, freezing of the elements and materials of the comet’s tail happens. In the nucleus of the comet, ice, water, carbon monoxide ice and carbon dioxide are present. The intensity of the sun’s heat transforms this nucleus to vapor. The nucleus is in solid state and the process bypasses the liquid state by turning solid to gas right away. This is scientifically called the process of sublimation. Comets may seem like they have no tails. But they do. However, they were really faint. Researchers and experts use specialized equipment in which the special filters are designed to be sensitive to gas emissions and dust.

Comets are believed to have tails since they are typically huge lumps of ice that contains dust particles. It forms a tail-like structure that we are able to see with our naked eyes. As the comet gets nearer
to the sun, the ice begins to melt and the dust particles are being released. It will be then swept and evaporated by the solar wind which will eventually form the comet’s tail.

There are lots of beliefs on this topic. But only one thing is for sure, comets are made up of substance and elements that undergo a certain process to make it look tail-structured. Since that the sun also greatly impacts the tail formation in comets, it happens at all times especially when the comet has started to move nearer to the sun. There are some comets that may appear to have two tails. A study shows that the first tail is composed of dust while the other contains gas. Always note that comet’s tails always extend to the direction away from the sun.


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