Modeling the Structure and Activity of Comet Nuclei

Dina Prialnik, Johannes Benkhoff, Morris Podolak

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Numerical simulation of the structure and evolution of a comet nucleus is reviewed from both the mathematical and the physical point of view. Various mathematical procedures and approximations are discussed, and different attempts to model the physical characteristics of cometary material, such as thermal conductivity, permeability to gas flow, drag of dust grains, and dust mantling, are described. The evolution and activity of comets is shown to depend on different classes of parameters: defining parameters, such as size and orbit; structural parameters, such as porosity and composition; and initial parameters, such as temperature and live radioisotope content. Despite the large number of parameters, general conclusions or common features appear to emerge from the numerous model calculations — for different comets — performed to date. Thus, the stratified structure of comet nuclei, volatile depletion, and the role of crystallization of ice in cometary outbursts are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationComets II
EditorsMichel C. Festou, H. U. Keller, Harold A. Weaver
Place of PublicationTucson : Houston
PublisherTucson : University of Arizona Press
Number of pages29
ISBN (Print)0816524505, 9780816524501
StatePublished - 2004

Publication series

NameUniversity of Arizona space science series


  • Comets
  • Comets -- Structure
  • כוכבי שביט -- מבנה - structure
  • כוכבי שביט


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