A giant comet — one of the largest ever seen — is heading towards the solar system.
The comet, named Bernardinelli-Bernstein (BB), was discovered earlier this year and with an estimated arrival time of 10 years from now, according to new research published on the preprint server arXiv.org.
The comet is poses no threat to the earth
However, the comet indicates no threat to the Earth. It is likely to pass between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus.
According to the latest estimates, the comet’s length is about 62 miles (100 kilometres) across, which is 1,000 times bigger than a typical comet.
Due to its enormous size, astronomers had mistaken the comet for a dwarf planet when it was discovered in June 2021.
The comet is named after two scientists
Scientists Pedro Bernardinelli and Gary Bernstein discovered the comet so it was named after them.
At present, it’s located at the Oort cloud, which is about 29 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun, or 29 astronomical units (AU). When the comet is closest to the Earth in 2031, its distance from the Sun will be around 10.97AU.
Reports says it as an extremely elongated orbit
When the comet was discovered in June, a report published in the US-based NOIRLab — a centre for ground-based, nighttime optical and infrared astronomy — stated the comet “has an extremely elongated orbit, journeying inward from the distant Oort Cloud over millions of years.”
The report also states that it’s the most distant comet to be discovered on its incoming path, giving researchers years to watch it evolve as it approaches the Sun.
UK to Build Spacecraft to Chase, Map Comet From Distant Space. Live Science states in a recent report that the comet will be so far from the Earth that humans won’t be able to watch it without a telescope.
The report also states that this isn’t the first time that the comet is visiting the solar system. “After modelling the comet’s trajectory, the study authors calculated that comet BB made its last approach 3.5 million years ago, coming within 18AU of the Sun,” stated the report.
Since humans haven’t seen the comet before with its earlier approach being over 3.5 million years away, the researchers added that “BB is a ‘new’ comet”.
An alien comet from another star Is soaring through our solar system
The discovery of the comet happened during a project called Dark Energy Survey.
The aim of the project was to study the expansion of the universe. Astronomers had then discovered over 800 previously unknown objects beyond Neptune’s orbit. The BB comet was one such discovery.