Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Pierce, Donna M.

Committee Member

Tanner, Angelle M.

Committee Member

Crider, Benjamin

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access



Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Physics and Astronomy


Comets, remnants of the solar system's formation, exhibits partially unexplained outbursts that are closely tied to the physical structure of the nucleus. To investigate outbursts, we employed pore network modeling techniques, such as the Bower-Watson algorithm and Voronoi diagrams, to better represent the nucleus' complex porous structure and simulate gas transfer processes. We examined heat diffusion in the comet's subsurface and its influence on crystallization. The extra heat generated by crystallization can shift the crystalline front deeper into the nucleus, accelerating subsurface evaporation rates. This process results in the formation of a thicker ice mantle with reduced porosity on the surface, trapping evaporated gas in the underlying layers. As gas pressure accumulates over time, the mantle eventually succumbs to the buildup. By applying percolation theory, we identified the critical point at which trapped gas breaks through the surface, ultimately leading to a better understanding of comet outburst formation.

Available for download on Thursday, May 15, 2025