Largest comet ever seen in the solar system is traveling towards Earth | World and Science

Comet will pass approaches Earthreproduction

Published 10/05/2021 20:47

One of the largest comets ever seen is coming from the edge of the solar system towards Earth and is expected to keep getting closer for the next ten years. The phenomenon, named Bernardinelli-Bernstein in honor of the scientists who discovered it, including a Brazilian, is 150 kilometers in diameter and is approximately 31 times larger than other comets already observed.

Bernardinelli-Bernstein was detected in 2014 for the first time, but only seven years later scientists were able to identify it. At first, astronomers mistook it for a dwarf planet, and as it gets closer to Earth, experts will be able to take a closer look.

“We’re privileged to have discovered perhaps the biggest comet ever seen — or at least bigger than any well-studied one — and we caught it early enough for people to see it evolve as it gets closer and warms up,” said one of the astronomers who discovered the comet, Gary Bernstein. “He hasn’t visited the solar system in over 3 million years.”

According to NASA, the US space agency, comets are usually about three to five kilometers across, while Bernardinelli-Bernstein is about 150 kilometers across.

Despite its size, the phenomenon, which is like a massive snowball made up of ice, dust and some rocky material, is still very far from Earth, which means there is no reason to panic.

According to scientists, the comet can take millions of years to circle the sun — while the Earth, for example, takes 365 days and 6 hours. It will only get closer to Earth on January 21, 2031, and even so, it will be closer to the Sun.