Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

What Is A Comet Made Of?

Date:
August 13, 2004
Source:
University Of California - Davis
Summary:
A new method for looking at the composition of comets using ground-based telescopes has been developed by chemists at UC Davis. Remnants from the formation of our solar system, the makeup of comets gives clues about how the Earth and other planets formed.

A new method for looking at the composition of comets using ground-based telescopes has been developed by chemists at UC Davis. Remnants from the formation of our solar system, the makeup of comets gives clues about how the Earth and other planets formed.

William Jackson, professor and chair of chemistry at UC Davis; researchers Alexandra Scodinu and Dadong Xu; and Anita Cochran of the University of Texas at Austin have developed methods to use visible and ultraviolet spectroscopy to study the chemical composition of comets.

Spectroscopy, a powerful technique in chemistry, splits light into a spectrum of color. Chemicals show a distinct pattern of peaks or lines in a spectrum. But the emission spectrum of comets in the visible and ultraviolet bands is full of thousands of lines, making it difficult to identify any one component.

The researchers took one suspected chemical, carbon disulfide, and used spectra measured in the laboratory under conditions similar to those in a comet. They compared this spectrum with that from comet 122P/De Vico to identify carbon disulfide in the comet. The spectrum of this molecule is such that it could not have been detected by other methods.

The technique makes it possible to look at the chemical composition of comets on their first visit to the inner solar system, which are difficult to reach with space probes and may have a different composition than comets that have been close to the sun many times, Jackson said. Detection of organic compounds such as benzene would show that these and more complex chemicals were present in the early solar system and could have contributed to the origins of life, he said.

The research is published in the June issue of the Astrophysical Journal.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of California - Davis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of California - Davis. "What Is A Comet Made Of?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 August 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/08/040810092257.htm>.
University Of California - Davis. (2004, August 13). What Is A Comet Made Of?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/08/040810092257.htm
University Of California - Davis. "What Is A Comet Made Of?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/08/040810092257.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks from Space Station

Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks from Space Station

AP (July 22, 2014) A Russian Soyuz cargo-carrying spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station on Monday. The craft is due to undergo about ten days of engineering tests before it burns up in the Earth's atmosphere. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong

NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong

AP (July 21, 2014) NASA honored one of its most famous astronauts Monday by renaming a historic building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It now bears the name of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Newsy (July 19, 2014) Neil Armstrong gained international fame after becoming the first man to walk on the moon in 1969. But what was his life like after the historic trip? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, July 18, 2014

This Week @ NASA, July 18, 2014

NASA (July 18, 2014) Apollo 11 yesterday, Next Giant Leap tomorrow, Science instruments for Europa mission, and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins