A large comet is the largest ever seen, new findings from the Hubble Space Telescope have confirmed.
Traveling about 80 miles (129 kilometers) through the center, the nucleus (or fixed center) of the comet, named C / 2014 UN271 (Bernardinelli-Bernstein), is larger than the state of Rhode Island, according to NASA. And about 50 times larger than the average comet core.
“This comet is in fact the ice peak for thousands of comets that are extremely visually impaired in the farthest reaches of the solar system,” said David Jewitt, lead author of a new study. confirming the size of the comet and the doctor. Earth science and astronomy at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the words of NASA. “We always thought this comet was big because it was so bright in the distance. Now we’ve confirmed that it is.”
Select: Amazing images of Comet NEOWISE from Earth and space
This comet is far from Earth now, traveling at about 22,000 mph (35,405 kph). Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein the sun has fallen for 1 million years. Never mind; The one closest to us, according to NASA, at about 1 billion miles (1.6 billion km), will not be available until 2031.
Previously, the comet that held the title for the “large nucleus” was C / 2002 VQ94, which was discovered in 2002 and was estimated to be about 60 miles (96 km) around.
This new behemoth of the comet was first seen in 2010. A few years later, astronomers Pedro Bernardineli and Gary Bernstein discovered what was in the archive data collected by Dark Energy. Survey at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. From its inception, the object has been studied using a wide range of instruments such as earth telescopes and telescopes such as Hubble.
With data from Hubble, researchers were able to confirm the magnitude of the size of this “iceberg.” (Comets are called “ice buckets” because they are made of stone, ice and other materials and debris, although the materials can be similar in construction. .) Now in the orbit of Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein, the “only” thing is. 2 billion miles (3.2 billion km) from the sun, the ice is about 348 degrees Fahrenheit (less than 211 degrees Celsius).
While dry, this temperature is so warm that carbon monoxide can sublimate (a process when the solvent becomes a gas) from the comet’s rock surface, creating a “coma,” an envelope of dust and gas surrounding the comet’s fixed center.
“This is amazing, given that it works so far away from the sun,” said research lead author Man-To Hui, a researcher at the Macau University of Science and Technology. Spoken in the same language as NASA. “We thought the comet might be important, but we need the best data to prove this.” So his team used Hubble to take five images of the comet in Jan. 8, 2022.
The biggest difficulty the team had in determining the size of the nucleus was the separation between the nucleus and the comet’s coma.
Bernardinelli-Bernstein was too far away for Hubble to accurately describe its nucleus, but the team saw a light signal with a telescope, indicating the location of the comet. Then they can use the Hubble sensors they have and, by using a computer simulation technology to show where the object’s coma is, they can determine how big its coma is. nucleus.
The team compared their data with previous data made by the Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile and found the first large data sets made with ALMA with the latest Hubble data. And ALMA’s radio crews allowed them to practice thinking about the object, showing that the comet was darker than expected.
“It’s a lot, and it’s darker than coal,” Jewitt said.
Scientists believe that Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein was flying from O aort cloud, the farthest land of our solar system where many comets live. It is thought that the comets that are located in this vast universe are attached to the sun but have been thrown out by gravity with the new giant stars of our solar system. And they stayed outside unless a gravity pulled in our path.
This comet, because it is the farthest from Earth and the farthest part of our solar system, is estimated to travel about 3 million years. elliptical orbit all day long. Scientists believe that the sun can travel about half a year in the farthest reaches of its planet.
This information is explained in article published today (April 12) in Astrophysical Journal Letters.