Which comet is approaching the Sun?
A comet is an icy object that orbits the Sun and sometimes breaks apart.
The Comet is estimated to be about three times as large as Rosetta, a comet that passed close to the Sun in 2014.
Scientists are not sure how long the Comet will last because it is not made of ice and is extremely fragile.
What do the experts at NASA say about the comet?
The Comet will make a close pass by Earth on November 13, 2018. Scientists believe it will collide with the Sun, but the close flyby may cause damage to satellites and power grids on Earth. The Comet is called Comet 45P/Wirtanen and is about 160 miles wide at its widest point.
NASA’s Hubble telescope determined that the Comet’s frozen nucleus has a mass of about 500 trillion tons and a width of 85 miles (137 km), more significant than Rhode Island’s US state.
The closest it will reach is a billion miles from the Sun, not until 2031. It was first spotted in 2010, but only now has the Hubble telescope confirmed its size. It is more significant than any comet that astronomers have ever seen. “We’ve always suspected that the comet must be huge because it’s so bright at such a great distance,” said David Jewitt, a UCLA planetary science and astronomy professor.
“We now confirm that this is the case.” NASA describes the dirty icicle as a colossus “that trades like that.” According to a statement from the space agency, the comets were discovered by astronomers Pedro Bernardinelli and Gary Bernstein in archival images taken during dark energy research at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. The comets are described by NASA as frozen “Lego blocks.” remaining from the early days of the planet’s construction.
“They were unceremoniously banished from the solar system in a gravitational pinball game between massive outer planets,” the statement said. “Ejected comets have settled in the Oort Cloud, a huge reservoir of distant comets surrounding the solar system.” Man-To Hui of the Macau University of Science and Technology called the Comet an “extraordinary object,” adding, “We thought the comet might be quite large, but we needed the best data to confirm it.”
Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein orbited in an elliptical orbit with a period of three million years, making it about half a light-year from the Sun. The Comet is now less than two billion miles from the Sun and is falling almost perpendicular to the plane of our solar system.