Laboratory Will Illuminate Formation, Composition, Activity of Comets

In Review of Scientific Instruments, researchers have developed a laboratory to simulate comets in space-like conditions. The goal of the Comet Physics Laboratory is to understand the internal structure of comets, as well as how their constituent materials form and react. Many of the lab’s future experiments will involve creating sample comet materials with differing compositions. By testing those materials in the space-like chamber, the researchers can compare each sample to what has been observed on actual comets.

ALMA Reveals Unusual Composition of Interstellar Comet 2I/Borisov

A galactic visitor entered our solar system last year – interstellar comet 2I/Borisov. When astronomers pointed the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) toward the comet on 15 and 16 December 2019, for the first time they directly observed the chemicals stored inside an object from a planetary system other than our own. This research is published online on 20 April 2020 in the journal Nature Astronomy.