– This comet is literally the tip of the iceberg. Several thousand comets are too obscure to be seen in the farthest parts of the Solar System, University of California David Jewett explains in a statement he prepared, among others. CNN.
Comet “C/2014 UN271” – which can also decorate itself with the somewhat easier-to-understand name of Bernardinelli-Bernstein – first caught the attention of NASA astronomers in 2014.
From dwarf planet to comet
At that time, it was believed that the so-called dwarf planet.
Only in 2021 can it be determined that it was huge comet cluster It consists of snow, pebbles, ice and rocks.
“Several thousand comets cannot be seen in the most distant parts of the solar system,” says Jewett, a professor of planetary sciences and astronomy.
Bigger than Vestfold
At a speed of 35,000 kilometers per hour, the comet is currently moving across the outer limits of our solar system.
Bernardinelli-Bernstein weighs an estimated 450 trillion metric tons, which is 100,000 times the mass of comets in our solar system.
NASA has now confirmed that the comet, which is 150 kilometers in diameter, is the largest comet ever discovered, thanks to the Hubble telescope.
According to NASA, it is larger than the US state of Rhode Island – or the former Norwegian county of Vestfold.
The comet was discovered as early as 2010, but only now has the size been confirmed.
“We have always suspected that this comet was large because it is so bright, despite its long distance,” Professor Jewett said.
– He said now we can confirm it BBC.
Researchers hypothesize that it originated from the Oort cloud. according to great norwegian encyclopedia It is a virtual cloud of comets, ice and cosmic dust orbiting the outer parts of the solar system.
NASA describes the comets as icy “LEGO cubes”, the remnants of earlier planet-forming days.
Nine years away from Earth
In September 2021, Gary Bernstein – who discovered the comet with Pedro Bernadinelli seven years earlier – estimated that it was likely to pass Earth on January 21, 2031.
And don’t worry: it’s likely to be more than 10.97 AU away from Earth, just a little further than the distance between Earth and Saturn.
This means that people will not be able to see it with the naked eye.
– It’s far away, and it won’t end up in the terrestrial category, Terje Wal at the Norwegian Space Center reassured to Dagbladet last fall.
Mapping Sky Threats
Many global space organizations are constantly working to monitor potential threats to Earth. Wall is one of the Norwegian delegates to the Board of Directors of Space Safety, the European Space Agency’s program for hazards from space.
ESA and NASA have ongoing programs to track down as many dangerous celestial objects as possible. In this work, both large telescopes are used here on Earth, and space probes with telescopes are also partially used.
Wall said scientists have come a long way in mapping dangerous celestial bodies.
“Fortunately, all the big things, those that can pose an existential threat to the Earth, will avoid the Earth – at least for the next 100 years,” he said.
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