Comets even fade as deep into space as Saturn’s orbit, scientists find

When comets first appear near Earth, their bright tails of ionized gas stun observers, but fade with each subsequent return.

Comets are essentially balls of dirty ice. Astronomers therefore believed that these objects become fainter on their repeated return to Earth because they released too much ice and gas during their previous visits to the inner solar system. The comets are thought to have melted and shrank from the sun’s heat, so when they return, there’s less material left to release and thus a weaker coma.

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