Changes in the structure of comet nuclei due to radioactive heating

Dina Prialnik*, M. Podolak

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The initial structure of a comet nucleus is most probably a homogeneous, porous, fine-grained mixture of dust and ices, predominantly water. The water ice is presumably amorphous and includes considerable fractions of occluded gases. This structure undergoes significant changes during the early evolution of the nucleus at large heliocentric distances, due to internal radiogenic heating. Structural changes occur mainly as a result of gas flow through the porous medium: the gas pressure that builds up in the interior is capable of breaking the fragile structure and altering the pore sizes and porosity. These effects are modeled and followed numerically, testing a large number of parameters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-178
Number of pages10
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1999


  • Comets
  • Composition
  • Evolution
  • Structure


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