Comets travel through the solar system considerably less often. The size of a huge comet approaching the Sun that has piqued scientists’ interest is estimated to be nearly 150 kilometres in diameter.
Earlier this year, two astronomers discovered the largest comet ever seen in the solar system. According to a new study, this gigantic outer space giant has been called the “nearly spherical cow of comets.” Comet C/2014 UN271 is the comet’s official name, but it’s commonly known as Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein after its discoverers, Pedro Bernardinelli and Gary Bernstein.
Preliminary reports put the comet’s diameter as up to 125 miles (200 kilometres), but new research published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters places it closer to 93 miles (150 km). Nonetheless, the size estimates a mass ten times that of comet Hale-Bopp, called the “Great Comet of 1997” because of its enormity.
Will Gater, an astronomer, collected photos of other prominent solar system objects to provide a sense of how huge this massive space snowball is.
This gigantic comet is much larger than Mars’ greatest moon, which may surprise some observers. Furthermore, Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein would be twice the size of the pair if both natural Martian satellites, Phobos and Deimos, were placed side by side longwise.
This enormous comet isn’t going to collide with Earth and send us back to the dinosaur era, but it is on its way into the inner solar system and will pass by the sun in 2031 at its closest approach. During the following decade, it must put up a nice show for astronomers. Furthermore, it has already begun to flaunt itself: early this month, the Las Cumbres Observatory recorded an apparent outburst and surge in brightness.
A portrayal of a comet similar to C/2014 UN271 that is heading our way.