Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein was named on June 24 in honor of Pedro Bernardinelli, who obtained his doctorate. in Astrophysics from Penn in 2021, and Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics Gary Bernstein – the two astronomers who discovered him. The comet – officially called “C / 2014 UN271” – is estimated to be between 62 and 125 miles long, making it 10 times the diameter of many comets and larger than the island of Hawaii, The New York Times reported.
Bernardinelli and Bernstein discovered comet by analyzing archival footage from the DES 2014 project, which mapped 300 million galaxies billions of light years away over a six-year period. During the course of the project, the imagery also detected many comets that have passed and objects floating around the planet Neptune, including the record-breaking comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein.
When Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein was first detected in 2014, it was over two billion kilometers away. The comet is now 1.8 billion kilometers away, making it the largest comet on an inbound trajectory to be detected from so far away, according to Noir Lab. Its great distance will allow astronomers to point their telescopes at the comet and observe its behavior for the next 20 years.
In 2031, the comet will reach its closest point to Earth, just outside of Saturn’s orbit, according to the New York Times. Since it will still be about a billion kilometers away when it approaches Earth in 2031, it will not show a visible trail like most comets, but rather a flicker. Sky watchers will likely have to use a powerful telescope to observe it, Bernstein said Penn today, adding that the behaviors of comets are generally difficult to predict.
âComets are like cats. You never know what they’re going to do, “Queen’s University Belfast astronomer Meg Schwamb told the New York Times.” I’m ready to have the popcorn. ”
Scientists believe that the comet originated from the Oort cloud, a shell of space debris on the outskirts of our solar system, according to NASA. They predict that there could be more giant comets that will be discovered in this region after the gas giants migrate early in their history.
“We are privileged to have discovered perhaps the largest comet ever, or at least larger than any well-studied comet, and to have caught it early enough for people to see it evolve as it evolves. comes closer and warms up, âBernstein said. Penn today.