The comet known as Bernardinelli-Bernstein (or C/2014 UN271) is at least 100 kilometers in diameter. It is about a thousand times larger than a typical comet. Because of its remarkable size, astronomers initially mistook it as a dwarf planet, according to a statement announced Guilty discovery In June 2021. A careful analysis of the building, however, revealed that the so-called Oort cloud – a vast formation filled with icy rocks, is located billions of miles from Earth. The object appeared to be facing us, and even had a glowing tail or coma behind it, a clear hint of an icy comet approaching the relatively warm inner solar system.
Scientists at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, have studied the comet in more detail and have new estimates of its path to the Sun. At the moment, Bernardinelli-Bernstein is moving in the Oort cloud at a distance of 29 times greater than the distance between the Earth and the Sun. The comet’s closest approach to our planet will occur sometime in 2031, when astronomers predict that the comet will descend by 10.97 AU (an astronomical unit roughly equal to the average distance between the Earth and the Sun) from the Sun. This will come out of Saturn’s orbit.
Because the comet would be so far from Earth, humans would not be able to see it with the naked eye. However, C/2014 UN271 approached Earth much closer than its predecessor. Based on comet trajectory modeling Study authors They calculated that it last approached 3.5 million years ago. “We conclude that BB is a ‘new’ comet in the sense that there is no evidence of a previous flight closer than 18 AU,” Write scientists. A closer look at a comet can help them better understand the chemical makeup of the early solar system, because comets from the depths of the Oort Cloud are considered relatively stable.
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