Skywatch

  • December 28, 2006

    Episode 75: Hot Comets?

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    Comets travel to Earth and the Sun on orbits that originate in the far reaches of our solar system. From observations and samples collected from a few comets, it seemed that the icy realm far beyond the orbit of Pluto was their birthplace. Comets have been called "dirty snowballs" because they?re composed mostly of ice and some grainy material. The results emerging from the Stardust mission, which snatched a material sample from an actual comet, suggests that some of comet material formed in an intensely hot environment. Scientists believe comets, planets, asteroids and other objects formed from the disk of gas and dust that collected around the Sun. Perhaps the Sun spewed jets of hot material to the far reaches of the disk, giving the comets their blistering background.