Astronomers Uncover Mystery Of The Biggest Comet Ever Found

Comets are collections of dust and ice left over from the formation of the solar system.

REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, JAKARTA — Not long ago, two astronomers discovered a comet giant. The comet is named Bernardinelli-Bernstein (BB), after its discoverers Pedro Bernardinelli and Gary Bernstein..

This object according to scientists is the largest comet ever discovered. It may be more than 160 kilometers wide, or hundreds of times larger than an ordinary comet. Scientists are still finding out about this comet.

A new study by University of Maryland astronomers suggests that comet BB was active long before previously thought. Active means that the ice inside the comet evaporates and forms a blanket of dust and vapor known as a coma. So far, only one active comet has been observed farther from the sun. The comet is much smaller than comet BB.

The findings will help astronomers determine what the BB is made of and provide insight into conditions during the formation of the solar system. The findings were published in The Planetary Science Journal on November 29, 2021.

“These observations push the distance for active comets dramatically further than we previously knew,” said Tony Farnham, a research scientist in UMD’s Department of Astronomy and lead author of the study. Phys, Tuesday (30/11).

Knowing when comets become active is key to understanding what these objects are made of. Often called dirty snowballs or icy earthballs, comets are collections of dust and ice left over from the formation of the solar system.

As an orbiting comet approaches its closest point to the sun, the comet warms up, and the ice begins to evaporate. How warm it is to start to evaporate depends on the type of ice it contains such as water, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide or other frozen compounds.

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