Comets are small, fragile, irregularly shaped bodies composed of
a mixture of non-volatile grains and frozen gases. They have
highly elliptical orbits that bring them very close to the Sun
and swing them deeply into space, often beyond the orbit of
Comet structures are diverse and very dynamic, but they all develop a surrounding cloud of diffuse material, called a coma, that usually grows in size and brightness as the comet approaches the Sun. Usually a small, bright nucleus (less than 10 km in diameter) is visible in the middle of the coma. The coma and the nucleus together constitute the head of the comet.
As comets approach the Sun they develop enormous tails of luminous material that extend for millions of kilometers from the head, away from the Sun. When far from the Sun, the nucleus is very cold and its material is frozen solid within the nucleus.