Largest comet ever spotted moves towards Solar System
Traveling space rock measures about 80 miles across
According to researchers, the Solar System’s largest ever comet is about to approach it.
The C/2014 UN271 (Bernardinelli-Bernstein) is the “largest long-period comet ever detected,”A team of scientists wrote a paper that was published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters Tuesday.
The comet was discovered in 2010, but scientists only recently estimated its features, using NASA’s Hubble space telescope. It measures approximately 80 miles (129km) in width, is larger than Rhode Island in the United States and about the same size as Wales.
The nucleus – the comet’s solid, central part – is about 50 times larger than found in most comets, NASA said. It is a staggering 500 trillion tonnes in weight, which is a hundred times larger than the average comet.
“This is an amazing object, given how active it is when it’s still so far from the Sun,” said the study’s lead author Man-To Hui of the Macau University of Science and Technology, Taipa, Macau. “We guessed the comet might be pretty big, but we needed the best data to confirm this.”
NASA declared that the comet poses no threat to Earth despite its immense size. It won’t get close to the Sun for more than 1 billion miles, and will remain there until 2031.