Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein is the largest – NASA confirms “an incredible object”

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Of: Tanya Banner

Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein (C/2014 UN271) is moving from the edge of the Solar System toward its center. (Artist’s rendering) © NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/J. because silva

NASA’s “Hubble” Space Telescope confirms what researchers have long suspected: Bernardinelli-Bernstein is the largest comet ever discovered.

Los Angeles – Shortly after Discovery of Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein (C/2014 UN271) In the summer of 2021, one thing was clear: The comet is huge. “We may have discovered the largest comet we’ve ever seen,” said Gary Bernstein, who found the comet together with his colleague Pedro Bernardinelli. Since then, the comet has been observed regularly. Now a new study confirms what researchers had already guessed since the comet was first sighted. “We always suspected that this comet must be large because it is so bright at such a great distance. Now we can confirm that it is,” explains astronomer David Jew of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).

Involved in a study on the Jewish comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein Published in Astrophysical Journal Letters became. “The comet is an incredible object, given how active it is despite being so far from the Sun,” said study lead author Man-Too Hui of Macau University of Science and Technology in Taipa. The Bernardinelli amber is currently about three billion kilometers from Earth, moving through the Solar System at about 35,000 kilometers per hour. “We suspected that the comet might be large enough, but we need the best data we can to confirm this.” To obtain these data, the research team used NASA-Space Telescope* “Hubble”.

Giant Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein (C/2014 UN271) is bigger than any comet before it

On January 8, 2022, the Space Telescope took five photos of the comet, which is currently moving toward the center of the Solar System. Researchers aim: Finding out how big a comet’s nucleus is – an extremely difficult task because the celestial body is so far away. Even on Hubble images, it is very difficult to distinguish between a solid comet’s nucleus and the surrounding coma – a diffuse and hazy envelope that can extend over millions of kilometers. Hui’s researchers eventually created computer models to separate the nucleus from the coma.

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The center of the comet is “larger and blacker than coal,” Jew said in a statement from his university. Researchers estimate the comet’s nucleus to be between 119 and 137 kilometers in diameter – the previous record holder was comet C/2002 VQ94, which had a centroid of about 96 kilometers. The US space agency NASA said in a statement that Bernardinelli-Bernstein is more than 50 times larger than the nuclei of most known comets. In addition, according to the research team’s calculations, Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein has a mass of 450 trillion tons — 100,000 times the mass of a typical comet close to the Sun.

C/2014 UN271 (Bernardinelli Amber)
Comet from the Oort Cloud
Pedro Bernardinelli and Gary Bernstein
The oldest binocular image discovered since June 2021, 20 October 2014
119 to 137 kms
35,000 km/h
01/31/2031. to 1.6 billion kilometers

Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein Comes From the Oort Cloud

Comet C/2014 UN271 comes from the Oort cloud, a region at the edge of the Solar System. Current research is of the opinion that there are trillions of comets out there. The Oort cloud is said to be at a distance of about 300 to 750 billion kilometers from the Sun. It comes from a theory by Dutch astronomer Jan Oort from 1950. Because the comets in it are so far away and shine very weakly, the Oort cloud has not been observed to date – but it is thought to be the largest structure in the Solar System. ,

Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein has been moving away from the Oort Cloud and headed toward the Sun for more than a million years. Its elliptical orbit around the Sun will bring it to the Sun’s closest point in January 2031, known as perihelion. The comet will then still be about 1.6 billion kilometers away from the Sun. Before that, he would never have come as close to the Sun as he did Comet discoverers Bernardinelli, Bernstein and other researchers write in a study, “Indeed, it may be the most ancient comet ever found,” it says.

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Comet size comparison: C/2014 UN271 (Bernardinelli-Bernstein) is significantly larger than any other comet ever observed.
Comet size comparison: C/2014 UN271 (Bernardinelli-Bernstein) is significantly larger than any other comet ever observed. © NASA, ESA, Jenna Levy (STSCI)

Comet is a “freezer” from the formation of the Solar System

Comets are considered “dirty snowballs” because their cores are usually made of dust and rock that have frozen together. As a comet approaches the Sun, its surroundings heat up and the ice goes straight from the solid state to the gaseous state. Thus the coma and tail of the comet are formed. The region of space where C/2014 UN271 is located is -211 °C – a temperature at which carbon monoxide ice is already sublimating. Researchers suspect that Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein may have been active since 2008* is.

Because the comets from the Oort Cloud did not form at the outermost edge of the Solar System, but were right in the middle of what was happening when the planets formed, they are considered valuable celestial bodies that can offer a glimpse of this time. . Research suggests that when the planets and moons formed, comets were thrown to the outer edge of the solar system and acted like a “freezer” to preserve the elements from that time.

The giant comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein will be observed more closely in the near future with new knowledge of its size. For about nine more years, the comet will move closer to Earth before returning to the Oort cloud. (Tanya Banner) * is an offer,

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