Dirty snowball model

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Term: Dirty snowball model

A model for a cometary nucleus proposed by Fred Whipple (1950-51), according to which the nucleus is a solid body (a few kilometers across) made up of various ices (frozen water, methane, ammonia, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen cyanide) in which dust is embedded. Dust particles are liberated when the ices vaporize as the comet approaches the Sun, and they get blown away by solar radiation pressure, often forming impressive, gently curved dust tails.

Created 2023.04.16
Last Modified 2023.04.16
Contributed by Ryan McGranaghan