Thursday , January 27 2022

Ten times larger than the others – a giant comet will revisit the solar system


In about 10 years (on a cosmic scale, that’s just the moment), a visitor who was here 3.5 million years ago will visit the interior of the solar system. At a time when people were running nowhere in this world. It is probably the largest comet ever seen. Peace of mind alone – even as it passes through our cosmic “district” – the enormous Bernardinelli-Bernstein comet will have nearly 11 astronomical units, more than 1.65 billion kilometers from the sun. We can not make bunkers, it does not endanger the earth, but the event itself is still very interesting.

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The cabaret artist Bernardinelli-Bernstin is named after his discoverers Pedro Bernardinelli and Gary Bernstin. In the “drier” classification, this object is registered under the much more peculiar name C / 2014 UN271.

This object was first captured in images in 2014, but its discovery, namely that it is a comet, was announced by NOIRLab only on June 25 this year. The two astronomers reviewed more than 80,000 images taken between 2013 and 2019 in the Dark Energy Survey (DES) project, which aims to map the location and motion and other parameters of some 300 million galaxies to unravel the mystery. rich dark energy better understood. In the process of DECam (“Dark Energy Camera”), many objects other than galaxies are captured in the images, including at least 800 objects near and far in the solar system. In DECam’s photographs, Bernardinelli and Bernstein recorded the object, now confirmed as a comet, 32 times.

In 2014, when it was first recorded, the comet lay in 29 astronomical units, or about four billion kilometers from the sun. The orbit of Neptune is about the same distance. It is now close to 20 astronomical units, but the closest to the sun will sometimes be in 2031, when it will pass through our cosmic “region” 10.97 astronomical units away from the sun – just past Saturn’s orbit.

Photo: Dark Energy Survey / DOE / FNAL / DECam / CTIO / NOIRLab / NSF / AURA / P. Bernardinelli & G. Bernstein (UPenn) / DESI Legacy Imaging Surveys. Acknowledgments: TA Rector (University of Alaska Anchorage / NSF’s NOIRLab), M. Zamani (NSF’s NOIRLab) & J. Miller (NSF’s NOIRLab)

A comet in one of the images created by DECam

If these distances seem enormous, then it must be borne in mind that the comet has traveled much, much farther distance to us. Subsequent images can analyze the comet’s trajectory and velocity, and astronomers have estimated that it began somewhere in the depths of the Orta cloud, about 40,000 astronomical units away. It is 260 times farther than the Voyager 1 probe flew from Earth, which began its journey in the late 1970s and is now the farthest man-made object from Earth, writes the site Astronomy.

Since the object is quite large, it was initially considered a dwarf planet. Until something was observed by which it could be classified as a comet, namely a coma. It is a shell of water molecules, dust and gases around the core of the comet that begins to form as the comet approaches the star and begins to sublimate its ice.

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