It has been more than three million years since she last visited the neighborhood. A comet that may be the largest ever is now on its way from the edges of the solar system and will swing relatively close to the sun and Earth.
The diameter of the celestial body is an estimated 100 to 200 kilometers, which is about ten times larger than most other discovered comets.
Its official name is C/2014 UN271, but it is also named Bernardinelli-Bernstein after the astronomers who discovered it.
A comet is a lump of ice likely originating from the so-called Oort cloud, a “cloud” of comets that surrounds our solar system. It moves in an elongated elliptical orbit around the Sun and is currently slightly closer to it than Neptune. At this rate, in 2031 you will be as close as you can get.
The last time a comet passed close to Earth was more than three million years ago, long before humans existed. An amateur scout may need a very good telescope to see it.
“We had the privilege of discovering perhaps the biggest comet we’ve ever seen – or at least a comet bigger than any comet we’ve studied closely – and we caught it early enough for people to see evolution approaching. It’s getting warm.” , Says Gary Bernstein, one of the two people who found the culprit, in a press release.