First activity of a giant megacomet beyond Saturn discovered, JAKARTA – Astronomers in New Zealand discovered a coma or zone of diffuse gas and dust around megacomet C/2014 UN271, also known as Bernardinelli-Bernstein, which may be 1,000 times larger than a regular comet.

This could be the most massive comet ever discovered in Earth’s recorded history.

The team monitored images taken by the Las Cumbres Observatory (LCO) scattered around the world and images from one of the LCO’s 1 meter telescopes presented at the South African Astronomical Observatory.

LCO team member Michele Bannister, from New Zealand’s University of Canterbury explained that the first image of the comet was not very clear due to the satellite, then the others turned out to be quite clear, and it looked like a beautiful little hazy spot unlike any other star.

What caught Bannister’s attention was the foamy coma that appeared at an incredible distance from the sun. The distance is about twice the distance of Saturn’s orbit from the sun. Solar energy at that time was a fraction of what we enjoy on Earth.

That said, comets have a lot of mass that can heat up. The massive nucleus (or nucleus) of Bernardinelli-Bernstein is estimated to be over 62 miles (100 km) in diameter, which is three times larger than the nucleus of the next largest known comet, comet Hale-Bopp, the famous comet.

Unfortunately, Bernardinelli-Bernstein will not be too close to our planet to be observable.

Bernardinelli-Bernstein’s closest approach to the sun will still be beyond Saturn in January 2031, but astronomers have a decade to plan for that approach.

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Project LOOK LCO, which has observed several comets, will continue to observe Bernardinelli-Bernstein. This project is expected to help because its network of telescopes allows it to respond quickly within 15 minutes each time an explosion occurs.

There’s also the Zwicky Transient facility and the upcoming Vera C. Rubin Observatory, which monitor sections of the sky every night.

Source: JIBI/


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