Do the tails of comets increase on their return trip from the Sun?

  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean with increase? Why do you think so? $\endgroup$ – user1569 Dec 13 '19 at 15:25
  • $\begingroup$ I think increase is self-evident in the context, as in, a longer tail during recession. $\endgroup$ – HaleBopp Dec 13 '19 at 15:44
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Comet tails as seen from Earth can grow, shrink, or vanish entirely during the course of the comets journey through the inner solar system, depending both on what happens to the comets' supply of dust and volatiles and the relative geometry of the comets' orbits to that of the earth. $\endgroup$ – antlersoft Dec 13 '19 at 15:46
  • $\begingroup$ @antlersoft I think you should expand this into an answer $\endgroup$ – astrosnapper Dec 13 '19 at 16:00
  • $\begingroup$ It seems likely that both the decreased cometary activity from lower solar heating, and the comet itself catching up to already-emitted dust and gas would result in a shorter tail as it recedes from the sun. $\endgroup$ – notovny Dec 13 '19 at 21:31

The only data I could find indicates that the brightness is similar approaching and receding: enter image description here Source
This is for the unusual almost "tailless" Comet Wirtanen .


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