Hubble confirms largest comet ever observed
The super comet is about 129km long at the solid center, which is larger than the US state of Rhode Island, according to a statement by NASA. This super comet is about 50 times larger than the average comet core.
“We always suspected this comet was massive because it was so bright even at such a distance. Now we’ve confirmed it is,” said David Jewitt, co-author of a new study that confirms the star’s size. broom and is a professor of planetary science and astronomy at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), said in a NASA statement.
This largest comet ever seen is far away from Earth, moving at about 35,405km/h. Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein has been traveling towards the Sun for more than 1 million years. But humanity need not worry about the safety of the Earth. According to NASA, this comet’s closest distance to Earth is about 1.6 billion km and will not approach Earth until 2031.
Previously, the comet with the largest nucleus was C/2002 VQ94, discovered in 2002 and estimated to be about 96km across.
The new giant was first observed in 2010. A few years later, astronomers Pedro Bernardineli and Gary Bernstein found the object in archives produced by the Dark Energy Survey at the Observatory Inter-American surveyor Cerro Tololo in Chile collected. Since its initial discovery, the object has been studied with a range of instruments including ground-based telescopes and space telescopes like Hubble.
With observations from Hubble, the researchers were finally able to officially confirm the enormous size of this “dirty snowball”. Comets are nicknamed “dirty snowballs” because they are made up of rock, ice and other matter, although comets can vary in composition. At this point, comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein is 3.2 billion kilometers from the Sun and has a temperature of minus 211 degrees Celsius. This temperature is warm enough for carbon monoxide to sublimate off the comet’s rocky surface, creating a star head. comet – a layer of dust and gas surrounding the solid center of a comet.
Man-To Hui, a researcher at Macau University of Science and Technology (China) – stated in a NASA statement: “This is an amazing object, showing how it behaves when it is still at a distance. far from the Sun”. He said the team predicted the comet could be quite large, but needed the best data to confirm it, so they used Hubble to take five pictures of the comet on January 8, 2022.
The main challenge the team faced in confirming the size of the comet’s nucleus was distinguishing between the nucleus and the comet’s head.
Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein was too far away for Hubble to pinpoint the nucleus, but the team detected a light signal with the telescope that showed the comet’s position. The scientists then used the Hubble observations and computer modeling techniques to determine the position of the comet’s head and determine the size of the nucleus.
Scientists think comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein traveled from the Oort Cloud, the furthest region in the Solar System, where comets are abundant.
This comet, which is very far from Earth and originated in the farthest reaches of Solar systemwhich is thought to move in a 3 million-year elliptical orbit around the Sun.
The findings of the new super comet are outlined in a study published April 13 in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
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