Earlier this year, astronomers determined the biggest comet ever, which is almost a hundred miles wide. Now, in addition, the study reveals this behemoth is heading toward the sun. But don't worry, it won't be posing any threat to us on Earth as it won't come any closer than the orbit of Saturn.
The comet, named Bernardinelli-Bernstein after its discoverers, is estimated to be around 95 miles in diameter and was once recognized using data from the Dark Energy Survey. Since its discovery, researchers have been poring over records to examine more about it. They will put up the study, titled "C/2014 un271 (Bernardinelli-Bernstein): The Nearly Spherical Cow of Comets," in Astrophysical Journal Letters soon.
Giant Comet Spotted Hurling Towards Milky Way
According to The New York Post, the comet has an extraordinarily elongated orbit and is currently heading in from the Oort cloud. NASA said the celestial body is a hypothesized group of icy bodies coming from the orbit of Pluto. According to the new paper, it will reach its perihelion or the closest factor to the sun in 2031. Express.co.uk said it will come within 10.71 astronomical units of the sun (1 AU is equal to the average distance between the solar and the Earth), which places it past the orbit of Saturn.
This offers scientists an exciting possibility to study the comet up close(ish), the usage of tools like the upcoming Vera C. Rubin Observatory. This observatory will be performing a sky survey to perceive many comets, even these a whole lot smaller than Bernardinelli-Bernstein. The observatory will also ring the comet as it allowed researchers to analyze extra about objects from the Oort Cloud and what they can tell us about the early photo voltaic system.
Studying the Comet Since Six Years Ago
Discoverer Gary Bernstein said in a statement that they had the privilege of finding possibly the biggest comet ever considered - or at least larger than any well-studied one - earlier this year. They caught it early enough for humans to watch it evolve as it approaches and warms up. According to Bernstein, the comet not visited the Solar System in more than 3 million years.
The said Bernardinelli-Bernstein comet is estimated to be 60 to 120 miles wide, which is 1,000 times the dimension of a regular comet. Astronomers printed the dimension when they first located it in June 2021. It is said to be bigger than the largest moon of Mars.
The comet, however, does not pose any harm to Earth. Its ride began at an estimated 40,000 au from the Sun, placed deep in the mysterious Oort Cloud. Scientists cited that the comet ought to sincerely be the greatest object from the mysterious Oort Cloud ever detected. It is also the first comet on the incoming route that is detected so some distance away.
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