Just a quick post today.. With ISON approaching it has opened up debate on the nature of comets. There are two prevailing views… The Dirty Snowball Theory and The Electric Comet Theory.
Electric Comet Theory
The Electric Comet
ELECTRIC COMET MODEL:
• Comets are debris produced during violent electrical interactions of planets and moons in an earlier phase of solar system history. Comets are similar to asteroids, and their composition varies. Most comets should be homogene- ous—their interiors will have the same composition as their surfaces. They are simply “asteroids on eccentric orbits.”
• Comets follow their elongated paths within a weak electrical field centered on the Sun. In approaching the Sun, a charge imbalance develops between the nucleus and the higher voltage and charge density near the Sun. Growing electrical stresses initiate discharges and the formation of a glowing plasma sheath, appearing as the coma and tail.
• The observed jets of comets are electric arc discharges to the nucleus, pro- ducing “electrical discharge machining” (EDM) of the surface. The exca- vated material is accelerated into space along the jets’ observed filamentary arcs.
• Intermittent and wandering arcs erode the surface and burn it black, leaving the distinctive scarring patterns of electric discharges.
• The jets’ explode from cometary nuclei at supersonic speeds and retain their coherent structure for hundreds of thousands of miles. The collimation of such jets is a well-documented attribute of plasma discharge.
• The tails of comets reveal well-defined filaments extending up to tens of mil- lions of miles without dissipating in the vacuum of space. This “violation” of neutral gas behavior in a vacuum is to be expected of a plasma discharge within the ambient electric field of the Sun.
• It is the electric force that holds the spherical cometary coma in place as the comet races around the Sun. The diameter of the visible coma will often reach millions of miles. And the visible coma is surrounded by an even larger and more “improbable” spherical envelope of fluorescing hydrogen visible in ultraviolet light.
• The primary distinction between comet and asteroid surfaces is that electrical arcing and “electrostatic cleaning” of the comet nucleus will leave little or no dust or debris on the surface during the active phase, even if a shallow layer of dust may be attracted back to the nucleus electrostatically as the comet becomes dormant in its retreat to more remote regions.
Dirty Snowball Model
DIRTY SNOWBALL MODEL:
• Comets are composed of undifferentiated “protoplanetary debris”—dust and ices left over from the formation of the solar system billions of years ago.
• Radiant heat from the Sun sublimates the ices. The vapor expands around the nucleus to form the coma and is swept back by the solar wind to form the tail.
• Over repeated passages around the Sun, solar heat vaporizes surface ice and leaves a “rind” of dust.
• Where heat penetrates the surface of a blackened, shallow crust, pockets of gas form. Where the pressure breaks through the surface, energetic jets form.
If you like Astronomy this article discusses the Electric Comet idea.
Excellent ISON website. To think these guys are amateur astronomers makes me feel a tad stupid as I try and follow along.
Random pictures just for fun••••Some by me and some are not