Comet not famously huge, but there are obviously exceptions to that rule. Researchers use Hubble Space Telescope yes spot The largest comet known to date, C/2014 UN271 (Bernardinelli-Bernstein). With a nucleus 80 miles across, it easily eclipses the 60-mile circumference of previous record holder C/2002 VQ94 – it’s about 50 times larger than a regular comet.
The comet was first discovered in 2010 by astronomers of the same name, Pedro Bernardinelli and Gary Bernstein. However, scientists have only recently verified the size by comparing the Hubble image with a computer model of the coma (the comet’s ‘atmosphere’ as it releases gas) and data. whether from Large millimeter/millimetre array Atacama. At about 2 billion miles from Earth, C/2014 UN271 is too far away for Hubble to visualize the nucleus.
And before you ask: no, there is no danger of an Earth-shattering collision. C / 2014 UN271 is in a 3 million year elliptical orbit that will bring it no more than 1 billion miles closer to the Sun, or slightly farther than Saturn’s distance, in 2031. It appears to have originated in the Cluster of Clusters. Oort cloud (theoretically, the comet’s nest is at least 2,000AU from the Sun) and can travel half a light-year away. Its -348F may seem cold, but it’s warm enough to induce a carbon monoxide coma.
Size endorsements aren’t just about bragging rights. This discovery expands humanity’s understanding of comet sizes, and adds to the still small catalog of very distant comets. It could also provide further evidence for the existence of the Oort Cloud and, by extension, help explain the cloud’s role in the development of the Solar System.
All products recommended by Engadget are handpicked by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.