A large comet — so massive that scientists had beforehand mistaken it for a dwarf planet — is hurtling by way of area towards our photo voltaic system and is anticipated to reach in about 10 years, new analysis revealed.
The Bernardinelli-Bernstein comet is an estimated to be 60-120 miles throughout, 1,000 occasions bigger than a standard comet, astronomers mentioned when its discovery was first announced in June. It is arguably the biggest comet found in fashionable occasions, scientists mentioned.
The comet, nonetheless, poses no risk to the Earth. It will cross the solar at its closest in 2031 at a distance of 10.71 astronomical items (au), placing it simply past the orbit of Saturn.
The comet’s journey started an estimated 40,000 au from the solar, deep within the mysterious Oort Cloud.
Scientists mentioned that the comet may very well be the biggest object from the Oort Cloud ever detected, and it’s the first comet on an incoming path to be detected so distant.
Astronomers started learning the item six years in the past, when no tail or “coma” typical to comets was detected. Continued analysis over the past three years revealed the presence of a tail, confirming the item as a comet.
Despite being so comparatively shut and so massive, a telescope will nonetheless be essential to see the item, scientists mentioned. It isn’t believed to have ever been seen by people earlier than, predating our existence final time it flew by, nonetheless it is going to be making a a lot nearer method to the solar on this journey, an orbit evaluation revealed.
“We have the privilege of having discovered perhaps the largest comet ever seen — or at least larger than any well-studied one — and caught it early enough for people to watch it evolve as it approaches and warms up,” mentioned Gary Bernstein of the University of Pennsylvania, who found the item with colleague Pedro Bernardinelli.
“It has not visited the Solar System in more than 3 million years.”