NASA confirms that the largest comet ever seen is on its way to Earth, but it is still safe - Beyond The World
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NASA confirms that the largest comet ever seen is on its way to Earth, but it is still safe

After Hubble Space Telescope studies, NASA confirmed that the largest comet ever observed had a diameter of roughly 85 miles and is now officially the largest comet ever spotted.

C/2014 UN271 (Bernardinelli-Bernstein (BB)) was discovered in 2014 by two astronomers, Pedro Bernardinelli and Gary Bernstein, utilizing archived Dark Energy Survey images. BB’s diameter was originally thought to be between 62 and 124 miles, but NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has officially confirmed the comet’s nucleus diameter to be 85 miles wide.

BB has exceeded the previous record-holder comet C/2002 VQ94, which has an estimated nucleus diameter of 85 miles, according to NASA’s blog. The comet has been speeding toward Earth for a million years and will pose no threat to the earth when it makes its closest approach in 2031, approaching within a billion miles of Earth or roughly the distance between Earth and Saturn.

Consider that if the entire area of BB is taken into account, it will be larger than the state of Rhode Island.

“This is an amazing object, given how active it is when it’s still so far from the Sun. We guessed the comet might be pretty big, but we needed the best data to confirm this,” Man-To Hui of Macau University of Science and Technology in Taipa, Macau, is the paper’s principal author.

“This comet is literally the tip of the iceberg for many thousands of comets that are too faint to see in the more distant parts of the solar system. We’ve always suspected this comet had to be big because it is so bright at such a large distance. Now we confirm it is,” said David Jewitt, a professor of planetary science and astronomy at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and co-author of the new study published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

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