Watch: Largest Comet Ever Seen Is Heading Towards Earth – NASA Confirms
After Hubble Space Telescope studies, NASA confirmed that the largest comet ever observed had a diameter of around 85 miles and is now officially the largest comet ever spotted.
Pedro Bernardinelli and Gary Bernstein discovered C/2014 UN271 (Bernardinelli-Bernstein (BB) in 2014 utilizing Dark Energy Survey historical photos. BB’s diameter was previously thought to be between 62 and 124 miles, but NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has officially validated 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 globe when it gets its closest approach in 2031, approaching within a billion miles of Earth or approximately the distance between Earth and Saturn, according to the space agency.
Watch: Lasgest Comet Nucleus Ever Seen
Consider that if the whole area of BB is considered, it will be greater 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,” said the paper’s lead author Man-To Hui of the Macau University of Science and Technology, Taipa, Macau.
“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.