“We always suspected that this comet must be very large, it is bright even at a great distance. Now we have confirmed it.” David Jewitt – Professor science planet and astronomy at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
In October, scientists estimated the diameter of Bernardinelli-Bernstein at between 100 and 200 km.
Recent observations from Hubble indicate that the solid core (excluding the tail) of Bernardinelli-Bernstein is about 129 km in diameter, larger than the size of the entire US state of Rhode Island.
This ice ball weighs more than 500,000 billion tons, 40% larger than the 2nd largest comet ever discovered.
Aside from its massive size, what makes Bernardinelli-Bernstein so special is that it hasn’t moved inside the solar system for 3 million years. This comet was originally located in the Oort Cloud, a vast, distant region of the universe believed to contain trillions of comets.
Capturing the comet’s size is important, the researchers say, as it provides new clues about the range of comets orbiting the Oort Cloud.
Because the Oort cloud can contain trillions of comets, “Bernardinelli-Bernstein may just be the tip of the iceberg‘ said Mr Jewitt.
Bernardinelli-Bernstein is quite far from Earth, traveling at about 35,200km/h.
This comet has been moving toward the Sun for more than 1 million years, but scientists say it will not harm Earth.
The reason is that during the closest approach, Bernardinelli-Bernstein will be 1.6 billion km from our planet. It also won’t approach Earth until 2031.
This comet is currently 3.21 billion km from the Sun. In a few million years, the ice ball will return to its place of origin in the distant Oort cloud.
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