There is a surprising guest in the solar system: it is the giant comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein 2014 UN271, which has just been discovered by astronomers at Penn State University in images collected between 2014 and 2018 by the Chilean Dark Telescope. Energy Survey. The diameter of this star is estimated at around 100 kilometers, and it may be two or three times the size of Comet Hale-Bopp, the famous record comet that lit the sky in the 1990s. According to expert calculations, 2014 UN271 will reach its closest point to Earth in 2031, but since it will remain outside of Saturn’s orbit, it will be too far away to be observed with the naked eye and its brightness will be similar to this. Charon, one of Pluto’s moons.
In addition to its extremely large size, what surprises this comet most is its extremely elongated orbit, which extends from the circumference of Saturn at a distance of about light years in the so-called Oort cloud. , birthplace of comets and asteroids on the edge of the solar system. At its farthest point in its orbit, 2014 UN271 barely feels the gravity of the Sun. It takes about 612,190 years to complete a revolution around our star. Since it is already entering the solar system, astronomers can study it for another ten years.
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