One of the largest comets ever observed is coming from the edge of the solar system towards Earth and is expected to get even closer in the next ten years.
With 150 km in diameter, it is about 31 times larger than comets commonly seen by astronomers.
It was first detected once in 2014, but only seven years later have scientists been able to identify it.
Named after the scientists who discovered it, Bernardinelli-Bernstein of which a Brazilian, he was first confused with a small planet known as planet ano.
As you get closer to our planet, scientists will be able to observe it and learn more about the formation of the solar system. .
One of the astronomers who discovered the comet, Gary Bernstein, said: “We are privileged to have discovered perhaps the largest comet ever seen or at least larger than any well-studied one, and we caught it early on. enough for people to see it evolve it will go as it gets closer and warm up.
“It has not visited the solar system in over 3 million years.”
What is a comet?
Like planets, comets orbit the Sun.
They are different from asteroids, however, because of their composition.
Asteroids are usually made of rocky and metallic materials.
Whereas comets are a bit like a soft snowball, made of ice and dust, and some rocky material.
You can recognize them in the night sky by their long tails, which can extend for millions of kilometers.
What’s so special about comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein ?
According to NASA, the American space agency, there are currently 3.743 known comets.
Usually, comets are about 3 to 5 km in diameter, the size of a village.
But the Bernardinelli-Bernstein is about 31 km of diameter, distance between Rio de Janeiro and Cabo Frio or S o Paulo and Bertioga.
And there’s no reason to panic: its orbit is too far away, which means it won’t collide with the Earth.
Actually, is so far away that astronomers estimate that it takes millions of years to circle the Sun while the Earth takes about 743 days.
In the next decade, as the comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein approaches the Sun, scientists will be able to observe it more closely.
It gets closer to the Earth in the day 21 January 2031.
Although, on that date, the comet is still about 1.6 billion miles away from the sun.