A 4 billion year old comet 128 km wide is heading towards Earth

The comet is currently at the edge of the solar system, and is expected to pass a near-Earth region sometime in 2031. That means we still have many years to go before it really interested in this ancient celestial body.

David Jewitt, professor of planetary science and astronomy at UCLA, and his colleagues published research on this comet recently in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. He said that objects like these ancient comets were “ejected” from the solar system many years ago.

These comets later populated the Oort Cloud, a large collection of distant comets that surround our solar system, Jewitt said. They then orbit the solar system at a distance of billions of miles.

A 4 billion-year-old comet 128 km wide is heading towards Earth - Photo 1.

The giant comet is codenamed C/2014 UN271.

Fortunately, we won’t have to worry about the comet hitting Earth. Astronomers say it will not pass close to the Sun at a distance of more than 1 billion miles. To make it easier to imagine, that’s a little farther than the distance between Earth and Saturn.

In addition to making its way towards Earth, one of the things that makes this ancient comet so fascinating is that it will be the largest nuclear comet of any comet we’ve seen so far. . Scientists determined the size of the nucleus using NASA’s Hubble space telescope. Currently, they estimate the comet is 85 miles across, or 128 kilometers.

The Jetwitt team estimates that the comet has a mass of about 500 trillion tons. That number is hundreds of thousands of times larger than the mass of a typical comet found near the Sun before.

Astronomers first observed it in 2010. At that time, this ancient comet was 3 billion miles from the Sun. Now, it is less than 2 billion miles from the Sun. Jewitt says it will continue its current loop until it returns to the Oort Cloud in a few million years.

Refer Gizmodo

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