A new planet-sized comet was seen entering the solar system and is expected to arrive in 10 years! The comet had been mistaken as a dwarf planet in the past due to its massive size.
Massive Comet Spotted
According to a story by the New York Post, a huge comment that is so big that scientists have actually mistaken it for a dwarf planet in the past is now heading through space and making its way towards Earth's solar system. The comet is now expected to arrive in just about ten years.
The said Bernardinelli-Bernstein comet is actually estimated to be a wide 60 to 120 miles across, which is 1,000 times the size of a traditional comet. Astronomers revealed the size when they first discovered it in June 2021. It is quite arguably the largest comet discovered ever during modern times, according to scientists.
The Comet is No Threat to Earth
The comet, however, does not pose any threat to Earth. It is said to pass the sun at its closest in 2031 at a whole distance of 10.71 au or astronomical units, putting it beyond the orbit of Saturn. The Hubble telescope was able to spot a galaxy with a "very active core", but the problem is how much longer it will be able to last.
The comet's journey started at an estimated 40,000 au from the Sun, located deep in the mysterious Oort Cloud. Scientists noted that the comet could actually be the largest object from the mysterious Oort Cloud ever detected. It is also the very first comet on the incoming path that is set to be detected so far away.
Astronomers Started Studying the Comet Six Years Ago
Astronomers started studying the object about six years ago when they detected no tail or "coma" that was typically known for comets. Continued research that spanned over the last three years now revealed the presence of a tail, which then confirmed the object as a comet.
Despite being relatively close and really large, a telescope is still needed to see the said objects, according to scientists. It is also not believed to have ever been seen by humans in the past, which predated their existence last time it was able to fly by. An exoplanet was also interestingly discovered, orbiting 3 stars while being found in a unique way.
Largest Comet Ever Seen
The comet, however, will be making a much closer approach to the sun on this particular trip, as revealed by an orbit analysis. Gary Bernstein of the University of Pennsylvania, who is also responsible for discovering the object with colleague Pedro Bernardinelli gave a statement.
Gary Bernstein stated that they have the privilege of having discovered the largest comet that was ever seen, or at least larger compared to any well-studied one, and caught it early for people to be able to watch it evolve as it starts approaching and warming up. It was also noted that the comet had not visited the solar system in over 3 million years.
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Written by Urian B.