University of Michigan - Department of Astronomy




Version: short

Comets worksheet

Before answering these questions, take a good look at the comet nucleus. You may want to refer to the text and images in the introduction when answering these questions.


  1. In what way is the description "dirty snowball" an appropriate description of a comet?In what way is it inappropriate?

  2. Describe the model comet nucleus: What is its shape? Is it smooth, jagged, bumpy...? Is it bright or dark? What about the gas coming off it: does it come from specific areas or all over; does it just drift away or form little streams? Compare it to a picture of a comet nucleus like the one in the introduction or in your text book. Other than it's size, how is your model comet similar and different from real comets?

  3. The material in this comet was simply mixed together and solidified, so the interior is more or less identical to the surface. This is similar to the structure of most real comets. What does this tell you about the formation of comets compared to the planets and major moons? What extra steps does a planet go through?

  4. Compare the internal structure of Pluto to comets. How are they similar and different? Is Pluto more like a comet, a terrestrial planet, or ajovian planet? What does this tell you about Pluto's formation?

  5. Measure the diameter of the model comet. What is the size of a real comet? Justify the size you choose. What is the scale factor of this model comet? Show your work.

Lat update: 4/20/12 by SAM

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