May 17, 2022

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Space: The largest observed comet is heading towards our solar system


Thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA has confirmed the size of the largest comet ever found in space. It is approaching our planet.

Comet C / 2002 VQ94 (Linear), with a diameter of 90 km, is the largest ever discovered. Today, thanks to observations made by the Hubble Space Telescope, the comet 2014 UN271 – also known as Bernardinelli-Bernstein – by its first observer – has been removed.

This comet was discovered in 2014, but has not been able to determine its exact size, far from us since then. Observations made by the Hubble Space Telescope have recently made it possible to evaluate it.

The star is about 130 kilometers in diameter, about 50 times larger than most known comets. NASA is talking about 500 billion tons and its weight is impressive.

“The tip of the iceberg”

“This comet is the tip of an iceberg of thousands of comets that are so faint that it cannot be seen in the farthest reaches of the solar system. We have always suspected that this comet must be so bright that it is so bright. Now we are confirming it,” said a professor of planetary science and astronomy at the University of California. And co-author of the published study, said David Juvid. “The Astrophysical Journal Letters”.

In the orbit of Saturn

It is certainly a vast celestial body, with its current orbit propelling it towards our planet at 35,000 km / h. – The most unusual speed in the interstellar vacuum, the International Space Station, for example, moving at 28,000 km.

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But the comet should not go too close or too close to our planet. In fact, according to scientists, “the comet will not come close to a billion kilometers from the Sun, and it will not happen until 2031”. In January 2031, it will be on the outskirts of Saturn’s orbit. Once passed, it will have to resume its journey to the “icy frontiers” of the solar system.

Oort cloud

According to the authors of the research, Bernardinelli-Bernstein has already approached the sun several times. Its next path is its second entry into the inner solar system. Suffice it to say that this visit will be considered a historic event.

Currently, scientists believe that the comet came from the Oort cloud, a place that is – more specifically – located around the solar system, the origin of trillions of comets.

This map compares the size of the solid, ice center of comet C / 2014 UN271 (Bernardinelli-Bernstein) to that of many other comets.

This map compares the size of the solid, ice center of comet C / 2014 UN271 (Bernardinelli-Bernstein) to that of many other comets.