Ions in the Coma and in the Tail of Comets—Observations and Theory

  1. Alan Johnstone
  1. K. Jockers

Published Online: 26 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GM061p0139

Cometary Plasma Processes

Cometary Plasma Processes

How to Cite

Jockers, K. (1991) Ions in the Coma and in the Tail of Comets—Observations and Theory, in Cometary Plasma Processes (ed A. Johnstone), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/GM061p0139

Author Information

  1. Max-Planck-Institute for Aeronomy, D-3411 Katlenburg-Lindau, Frg

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1991

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875900278

Online ISBN: 9781118663660



  • Comets;
  • Space plasmas;
  • Astrophysics


This paper summarizes our present knowledge about the behaviour of cometary plasma from the viewpoint of the ground-based observer. Starting with an overview about the dimensions and ion column densities of comet tails the tail velocities and accelerations are studied. The in-situ measurements of the cometary magnetic field are briefly mentioned as far as they concern the optical observations. The problem of ion origin in the cometary coma and the production of ions and its relation to the production of neutrals is discussed. The last section is concerned with comet tail activity, i.e. tail kinks and the associated Rayleigh-Taylor instability, tail rays and the so-called tail disconnection events.