There’s a fairly widespread fascination for Comets that’s partly a response to the Cognitive Dissonance experienced when Astronomers authoritatively assert a Comet is a dirty snowball while the observer’s lying eyes see a scaled-up meteor burning-up in space.
Place your Cognitive Dissonance on hold for five minutes and follow the clues.
The relative abundance of light elements in Comet Halley suggests a Stellar connection.
For several Solar System objects the abundances of key elements relative to silicon (Si) are plotted against the relative abundance of hydrogen to silicon. From top to bottom: oxygen (O), carbon (C) and nitrogen (N).
All of the comet’s light elements (except nitrogen) were found in the same relative abundance as for the Sun.
European Space Agency – Giotto – Comet Halley’s Composition – 03 May 1986
The predominance of Cometary compounds containing Carbon [C], Nitrogen [N] and Oxygen [O] suggest a strong connection with the Stellar CNO Cycle.
The CNO cycle (for carbon–nitrogen–oxygen) is one of the two known sets of fusion reactions by which stars convert hydrogen to helium, the other being the proton–proton chain reaction.
It appears the Cometary CNO Cycle doesn’t “run to equilibrium” because Carbon is the dominant Cometary element that produces the characteristic Swan Bands from fluorescing Diatomic Carbon [C2].
When the cycle is run to equilibrium, the ratio of the carbon-12/carbon-13 nuclei is driven to 3.5, and nitrogen-14 becomes the most numerous nucleus, regardless of initial composition.
The Swan Bands suggest Comets are closely aligned with Carbon Stars.
Swan bands are a characteristic of the spectra of carbon stars, comets and of burning hydrocarbon fuels. They are named for the Scottish physicist William Swan who first studied the spectral analysis of radical Diatomic carbon C2 in 1856.
Fr. Pietro Angelo Secchi SJ (1818-1878) was an Italian astronomer.
Starting in 1863, he began collecting the spectra of stars, accumulating some 4,000 stellar spectrograms.
His recognition of molecular bands of carbon radicals in the spectra of some stars made him the discoverer of carbon stars, which made one of his spectral classes.
In fact, the Wikipedia entry for a Carbon Star reads like an accurate description of a Comet – just ignore their pre-historic and prejudicial phraseology such as “ruby red” and “red giant”.
A carbon star is typically an asymptotic giant branch star… whose atmosphere contains more carbon than oxygen; the two elements combine in the upper layers of the star, forming carbon monoxide, which consumes all the oxygen in the atmosphere, leaving carbon atoms free to form other carbon compounds, giving the star a “sooty” atmosphere…
By definition carbon stars have dominant spectral Swan bands from the molecule C2.
Many other carbon compounds may be present at high levels, such as CH, CN (cyanogen), C3 and SiC2.
IRC +10216 or CW Leonis is a well-studied carbon star that is embedded in a thick dust envelope.
CW Leonis is believed to be in a late stage of its life, blowing off its own sooty atmosphere to form a white dwarf in a distant future.
In Classical Carbon Stars the abundance of Carbon is attributed to “helium fusion”.
In the classical carbon stars, those belonging to the modern spectral types C-R and C-N, the abundance of carbon is thought to be a product of helium fusion, specifically the triple-alpha process within a star, which giants reach near the end of their lives in the asymptotic giant branch (AGB).
The triple-alpha process is a set of nuclear fusion reactions by which three helium-4 nuclei (alpha particles) are transformed into carbon.
The net energy release of the process is 7.273 MeV (1.166 pJ).
This implies the Helium created by the Cometary CNO Cycle is then transformed by the Triple-Alpha Process into Cometary Carbon.
The “fusion” of Cometary Helium would explain the absence of Helium in Cometary Spectra.
Search for Helium
An attempt was made with the extreme-ultraviolet spectroheliograph (S082A) to photograph the comet in the radiation from neutral and singly ionized helium at 58.4 and 30.4 nm, respectively.
The Naval Research Laboratory team reported that no image was detected.
Skylab’s Astronomy and Space Sciences – C A Lundquist – 1979
The surface of the nucleus was very dark – blacker than coal…
Most of the dust was no larger than specks of cigarette smoke.
European Space Agency – Giotto – Science Results
The Triple-Alpha Process can produce “nuclides only up to nickel-56 (which decays later to iron)”.
Nucleosynthesis of heavy elements
With further increases of temperature and density, fusion processes produce nuclides only up to nickel-56 (which decays later to iron); heavier elements (those beyond Ni) are created mainly by neutron capture.
The Triple-Alpha Process explains the diverse composition of Carbon Stars.
Various chemical elements and about 50 molecules have been detected in the outflows from CW Leonis, among others nitrogen, oxygen and water, silicon and iron.
The Triple-Alpha Process also resolves the Reflected Light Enigma because a diverse range of fluorescing compounds would contribute to the Cometary White Light Continuum.
The arcane attitudes of astronomy remained frozen and fossilised even after the Giotto mission discovered the [unmentionable] Reflected Light Enigma caused by Comet Halley’s “blacker than coal” nucleus surrounded by a cloud of tiny specks that resembled “cigarette smoke”.
On 30.14 March 1997 we observed the EUV spectrum of the bright comet C/1995 O1 (Hale-Bopp) at the time of its perihelion, using our EUVS sounding rocket telescope/spectrometer. The spectra reveal the presence H Ly beta, O+, and, most notably, Argon.
The Discovery of Argon in Comet C/1995 O1 (Hale-Bopp)
S A Stern, D C Slater, M C Festou, J Wm Parker, G R Gladstone, M F A’Hearn, E Wilkinson
The Astrophysical Journal. 544 (2): L169–L172.
Several organic molecules have now been detected in the coma of Hale–Bopp… organic molecules HCOOH, HCOOCH3, HC3N and CH3CN.
We find that gas phase chemical reactions are unable to synthesize the observed abundances of these molecules, so all these species are most probably present in the nuclear ice.
Organic Synthesis in the Coma of Comet Hale–Bopp?
S D Rodgers and S B Charnley
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society – Vol 320:4 – Feb 2001
The noted coincidence of spikes in terrestrial Thorium 232 with Close Cometary Encounters suggests Comets also create “atomic nuclei heavier than iron” via the R-Process.
Thorium is a chemical element with symbol Th and atomic number 90.
232Th is a primordial nuclide, having existed in its current form for over ten billion years; it was forged in the cores of dying stars through the r-process and scattered across the galaxy by supernovae.
The rapid neutron capture process or r-process is a set of reactions in nuclear astrophysics that are responsible for the creation (nucleosynthesis) of approximately half the atomic nuclei heavier than iron.
This process entails a succession of rapid neutron captures (hence the name) by heavy seed nuclei, typically beginning with 56Fe.
The captures must be rapid in the sense that the nucleus does not have time to undergo radioactive decay before another neutron arrives to be captured.
The r-process therefore occurs in locations where there is a high flux of free neutrons.
Overall, given the simplicity of the approach it’s surprising to discover so many of the Thorium 232 spikes align with “known” Close Cometary Encounters.
Thorium would significantly enhance the observed Cometary White Light Continuum.
Overall, Whipple’s Dirty Snowballs appear to be Fusion Factories and when the pre-historic phraseology is stripped away they emerge as electromagnetic members of a Ferrous Fusion Family that include: Stars, Comets, Iron Meteors and probably Planets like Earth.
In the case of comets, the difference is one of composition: while asteroids are mainly composed of mineral and rock, comets are composed of dust and ice.
We present a new calibration of the elemental-abundance data for Asteroid 433 Eros taken by the X-ray spectrometer (XRS) aboard the NEAR-Shoemaker spacecraft.
These revised abundance ratios are consistent within cited uncertainties with the results of Nittler et al. [Nittler, L.R., and 14 colleagues, 2001. Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 36, 1673–1695] and thus support the prior conclusions that 433 Eros has a major-element composition similar to ordinary chondrites with the exception of a strong depletion in sulfur, most likely caused by space weathering.
Elemental Composition of 433 Eros: New Calibration of the NEAR-Shoemaker XRS data – Lucy F Lim Larry R Nittler
Icarus – Volume 200 – Issue 1 – March 2009
A meteorite is a solid piece of debris from an object, such as a comet, asteroid, or meteoroid, that originates in outer space and survives its passage through the Earth’s atmosphere and impact with the Earth’s surface or that of another planet.
Most meteorites are stony meteorites, classed as chondrites and achondrites.
Only about 6% of meteorites are iron meteorites or a blend of rock and metal, the stony-iron meteorites…
About 8% of the meteorites that fall on Earth are achondrites (meaning they do not contain chondrules), some of which are similar to terrestrial igneous rocks.
Iron meteorites are meteorites that consist overwhelmingly of an iron–nickel alloy known as meteoric iron…
The rapid neutron capture process or r-process… entails a succession of rapid neutron captures (hence the name) by heavy seed nuclei, typically beginning with 56Fe.
Debris from Comet Siding Spring added a temporary, but strong layer of ions to Mars’s ionosphere… Magnesium, iron, and other metals were observed to have had been deposited…
The cometary magnetic field temporarily merged with and overwhelmed Mars’s weak magnetic field.
Astronomy need some serious counselling to overcome it’s bizarre fixation with Surreal Snowballs, Hallucinated Hailstones and Imaginary Interstellar Icebergs.