A Giant Comet from 3.5 Million Years Ago is Heading For Earth

The giant comet will be at its closest point to Earth in 2031.

REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, JAKARTA — Researchers found a giant comet about to hurtle toward Earth. The comet, named Bernardinelli-Bernstein (BB), is the largest comet scientists have ever detected.

Reported from Live Science on Saturday (2/10), according to the latest research published on the preprint server arXiv.org mentions, that this giant comet will arrive on earth in the next 10 years or 2031 to be exact.

A closer analysis of the object revealed that the comet was moving rapidly through the Oort cloud of a vast pile of ice, billions of miles from Earth. The comet appears to be heading toward Earth, and even has a glowing tail behind it, a clear indication of an icy comet approaching the relatively warm inner solar system.

Now, researchers have studied the massive comet in greater detail. Scientists have new predictions about its journey to the sun.

Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein or also known as C/2014 UN271 in astronomical parlance, has a width of 62 miles (100 kilometers) or about 1,000 times larger than an ordinary comet. The comet is so large that astronomers previously mistook it for a small planet, according to a statement announcing the comet’s discovery in June 2021.

For starters, large rocks pose no threat to the Earth. Currently, Bernardinelli-Bernstein (BB) is traversing the Oort cloud with a distance of about 29 times the distance between the Earth and the sun, or 29 astronomical units (AU).

The comet’s closest approach to Earth will occur around 2031, when scientists predict the comet will dive within 10.97 AU of the sun, placing it just beyond Saturn’s orbit.

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After modeling the comet’s trajectory, the study’s authors calculated that comet BB made its last approach 3.5 million years ago, coming within 18 AU of the sun. “Since then, the comet has traveled as far as 40,000 AU, deep into the mysterious Oort cloud,” the researchers said.

“We conclude that BB is a ‘new’ comet in the sense that there is no evidence for a previous approach closer than 18 AU,” the researchers wrote in their study, in other words, humans had never seen before.


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