A gigantic comet is actually the largest ever seen, confirmed by new observations from the Hubble Space Telescope.
80 miles (129 km) across, embryo (or solid center) comet, Also known as C / 2014 UN271 (Bernardinelli-Bernstein), which is larger than Rhode Island state, according to NASA. And it is 50 times larger than the average comet center.
“This comet is the tip of the iceberg for many thousands of comets that are invisible in distant parts of the Solar System,” said David Jovid, co-author and professor of a new study confirming the size of the comet. Planetary Science and Astronomy (UCLA) at the University of California, Los Angeles NASA said in a statement. “We always suspected that this comet must be bigger because it’s so bright at such a great distance. Now we’ve confirm it.
The comet is currently farthest from Earth, magnifying at about 22,000 mph (35,405 kph). Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein Falling towards the sun for over 1 million years. But don’t worry; According to NASA, it will come very close to us, about 1 billion miles (1.6 billion km), which will not even reach until 2031.
Previously, the comet C / 2002 VQ94, titled “Largest Embryo”, was discovered in 2002 and is estimated to be 60 miles (96 km) across.
This new comet was first observed in 2010. A few years later, astronomers Pedro Bernardinelli and Gary Bernstein discovered material in archival data collected by the Dark Energy Survey at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Laboratory in Chile. Since its original invention, the object has been studied using a wide range of instruments, including ground-based telescopes and space-based telescopes such as the Hubble.
Through Hubble’s observations, the researchers were finally able to officially confirm the mammoth size of this “dirty snowball”. (Comets are nicknamed “dirty snowballs” because they are composed of rock, ice and other materials and debris, although materials may vary in composition.) 2 billion miles (3.2 billion km) from the Sun, the ice cap is minus 348 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 211 degrees Celsius).
When cooled, this temperature is heated to the point where carbon monoxide (a process by which solid matter turns into gas) from the rock surface of the comet forms a dust and gas envelope “coma” around the comet’s solid core.
“It’s a wonderful thing, how active it is when it’s still far from the sun,” said Mann-du Hui, the study’s lead author, a researcher at the Macau University of Science and Technology, in the same NASA report. “We guessed the comet might be too big, but we need better data to confirm this.” So, his team used Hubble to take five photos of the comet on January 8, 2022.
The main challenge for the team in confirming the size of the fetus was to differentiate between the coma of the fetus and the comet.
The Bernardinelli-Bernstein Hubble is so far away that its nucleus cannot be accurately defined, but the team detects a light signal through a telescope, indicating the location of the comet. They were then able to use the Hubble observations they had, and using computer modeling technology to show where the coma of the object was, they were able to determine the size of its nucleus.
The team compared their data with previous observations made by the Atacama Large Millimeter / Submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile and found that previous quantitative estimates made with ALMA were consistent with the new Hubble findings. Also Alma’s radio observations allowed them to learn about the object’s reflection, showing that the comet’s surface was darker than they expected.
“It’s bigger, it’s blacker than coal,” Juvid said.
Scientists believe the comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein will travel Oort cloud, The most remote part of our solar system inhabited by a large number of comets. Comets in this massive, diffused cloud form close to the Sun, but are thought to have been thrown far away by gravitational interactions with the newly born giant planets of our solar system. They tend to stay there until another force of gravity pushes them our way.
The comet, which is farthest from Earth and appears in the farthest parts of our solar system, is thought to travel 3 million years. Elliptical orbit Around the sun. Scientists estimate that it could travel about half a light-year from the Sun to distant parts of its orbit.
These findings are described A study published today (April 12) In letters from the Journal of Astronomy.
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