Study Reveals Similarity Among Chemicals On Comets

By Rodney Rafols , Dec 05, 2016 01:58 AM EST

People in the past have looked at comets in awe. Comets then were said to be heralds of something dire. Comets these days are seen much differently. A study reveals similarity among chemicals on comets.

Comets are more than just balls of ice travelling into our solar system. Astronomers are getting a new appreciation of comets as more studies are made on them. Now it's being found out that comets have different chemicals on them. These chemicals react with one another in different ways in different comets.

No two comets are exactly alike. Even though there is a similarity among chemicals on comets, the chemical compositions that make up these comets vary. That means the chemicals also interact differently between comets. The research is part of an ongoing one made by researchers from John Hopkins University. The research is led by Neil Dello Russo, lead researcher and a space scientist at the John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

Comets can help in understanding more on how the solar system has been formed, according to Science Daily. The chemicals found on the comets might provide a view on what the early solar system has been made of. Methane, carbon monoxide and ammonia can be found on comets. Water as well as been found on comets.

Each comet has a different chemical signature. The comets are classified into two classes. There is a class called short period comets coming from the Kuiper Belt. There is also the long period comets that come from the Oort Cloud. Even within each class, comets can vary widely.

For the study, Earth-based instruments have been used, as the John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory notes. These instruments include the high resolution infrared spectrometer, used to observe the differences in comet tails. A number of spectrometers have been used, one of them being the Near-Infrared Spectrometer (NIRSPEC) at the Keck 2 Telescope in the W.M. Keck Observatory.

As more studies are made on comets, astronomers are realizing that they have some similarities, but at the same time they also have differences. The study reveals that while there is similarity among chemicals on comets, these chemicals vary in composition. There is a new study that says the evidence for life on Mars has been found a long while back.

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