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NASA confirms that the nucleus of the colossus is the largest ever

Published on 04/15/2022 09:43

(credit: NASA)

The nucleus of comet C/2014 UN271, which has a circumference of about 129 kilometers, also known as Bernardinelli-Bernstein, is the largest ever observed by NASA, the agency said on Tuesday (12).

Images from the Hubble telescope confirmed the dimensions of the comet’s icy core, which are 50 times larger than what is generally found in space. The estimated mass of Bernardinelli-Bernstein is 500 trillion tons – 100,000 times greater than the mass of typical comets orbiting the Solar System.

C/2014 UN271 has a trajectory of 35,400 kilometers per hour, but the comet’s trajectory does not present a collision risk. The closest point to Earth is expected to occur in 2031, when the comet will be about 1.6 billion kilometers from the sun – a distance equal to that of Saturn.

Watch a NASA simulation:

“This comet is literally the tip of the iceberg of thousands of comets too faint to be seen in distant parts of the Solar System,” said David Jewett, professor of planetary sciences and astronomy at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). ) to NASA. “We have always suspected that this comet must be large because of its high brightness. Now we confirm it,” the professor said.

Megacomet C/2014 UN271 was discovered by astronomers Pedro Bernardinelli and Gary Bernstein in archival images from the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. The first observation was made in 2010, when the comet was 4.8 billion km from the Sun – about the same distance as Neptune. Since then, the hydrometer has been studied and followed by space telescopes.

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