Scientists have documented the existence of an enormous comet ever seen and revised its proportions, around 85 miles in diameter and 15 times the height of Mount Everest.
It’s nearly double the size of the famous comet Hale-Bopp, which held the previous record.
The icy behemoth, called C/2014 UN271 (Bernardinelli-Bernstein), or BB, is currently speeding toward the Sun and will make its closest approach on January 21, 2031, providing a unique view of a massive comet from the farthest regions of our solar system.
The comet is called after its discoverers, cosmologist Gary Bernstein of the University of Pennsylvania and postdoctoral fellow Pedro Bernardinelli of the University of Washington, who first discovered it in the Dark Energy Survey dataset.
In addition to being the largest known object of its kind. BB could be one of the most’ immaculate’ scimet,” according to a recent study submitted on the online domain arxiv and accepted for publication in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics Letters.
The latest study, led by astronomer Emmanuel Lellouch of the Observatoire de Paris in France, builds on the discovery of BB last year by its namesake scientists, Pedro Bernardinelli and Gary Bernstein.
Bernardinelli and Bernstein first discovered the comet in archival pictures from the Dark Energy Survey in 2014, which is why the year is included in the comet’s official scientific name.
The comet is presently winging its way into the solar system’s interior. In 2031, it will travel closest to Earth, but not too close: the comet will hover somewhere outside Saturn’s orbit.
Given that BB’s orbit is predicted to be completed only every three million years or so, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to observe it up close.