Hubble discovers the LARGEST comet yet and it's bigger than Rhode Island, see pics

On January 8, a team utilized the Hubble Space Telescope to photograph Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein five times


                            Hubble discovers the LARGEST comet yet and it's bigger than Rhode Island, see pics
The estimated diameter of the comet is 85 miles (137 kilometers) across, making it about 50 times larger than typical comets (Hubble Space Telescope/Twitter)

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has discovered a massive 'megacomet' that is more than 80 miles wide and has an astounding mass of 500 trillion tonnes. It's about 50 times larger than the average comet core and more than double the width of Rhode Island. In photographs, it appears to be a pinprick of light, but scientists have proven that this freshly found space snowball is the biggest comet ever spotted, stretching the length of more than three marathons.

"This comet is literally the tip of the iceberg for many thousands of comets that are too faint to see in the more distant parts of the solar system," David Jewitt, co-author of a new study confirming the comet's size and a professor of planetary science and astronomy at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), said in the NASA statement. "We've always suspected this comet had to be big because it is so bright at such a large distance. Now we confirm it is." According to researchers, the size of this comet is crucial since it gives information on the size range of comets circling in our solar system's outer edges. The Oort Cloud is a sphere of old, frozen objects that surrounds the system. According to NASA, the cloud is still a theory since the comets in it are too weak and distant to be spotted directly.

READ MORE

Massive solar storm could hit Earth in days and impact power grids, communications

Can comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein hit Earth? Monster rock hurtling towards solar system



 

 

The Hubble Space Telescope, an Earth-orbiting observatory shared by NASA and the European Space Agency, was utilized by a team of scientists to establish that Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein has a nucleus that is around 50 times bigger than the average known comet. This brilliant ball of ice, dust, and rock spans 85 miles, more than twice the breadth of Rhode Island, and weighs 500 trillion tonnes. In comparison, it is more than 40 per cent bigger than the runner-up. 

The Oort Cloud might contain trillions of ice comets. That implies that Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein maybe only the "tip of the iceberg," according to David Jewitt, a UCLA astronomer and co-author of the new study. In 2014, the comet was discovered by a massive desert-based telescope in Chile. However, it required years of heavy processing to filter through massive amounts of data and locate the faraway object, formerly known as C/2014 UN271.

Scientists were aware of its enormity at that time, but measurements had not been validated. On January 8, a team utilized Hubble to photograph the comet five times. On April 12, the new findings were published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. Given how active the comet appears to be despite its huge distance from the sun (which warms up and melts particles off nearby comets), it's "an extraordinary item," according to the study's main author Man-To Hui.

Comets, noted for their millions-of-mile-long streaks, are among the solar system's oldest objects. These ice bodies are left behind from the development of nearby planets.

Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein is named after its discoverers, astronomers Pedro Bernardinelli and Gary Bernstein, and is approaching the sun from the solar system's outskirts at 22,000 mph. Though the massive boulder is sometimes characterized as "heading this way," space is a vast expanse. It will never go closer to the sun than a billion miles, which is a little further away than Saturn's orbit. Astronomers predict that it will reach that point in 2031.

In a nutshell, it's not approaching near Earth.

The comet is currently fewer than 2 billion miles from the sun and will return to its origins in the distant Oort Cloud in a few million years.
 

If you have a news scoop or an interesting story for us, please reach out at (323) 421-7514