Comet Neuss pierces the night sky over Stonehenge
Photographer Matthew Brown captured the “photo of a lifetime” as the rare comet was seen over Stonehenge on July 10.
- “We have the privilege of discovering perhaps the biggest comet we’ve ever seen.”
- The solar system has not been visited for more than 3 million years.
- People here on Earth will likely need to rely on telescopes to take pictures of it.
This is a big one.
A giant comet – which scientists say is arguably the largest comet discovered in modern times – is on its way toward the sun and will reach its closest point to Earth in 2031.
“We have the privilege of discovering perhaps the largest comet we’ve ever seen – or at least bigger than any well-studied comet – and finding it early enough for people to watch as it evolves as it approaches,” said the University of Pennsylvania astronomer. Gary Bernstein, which is a co-discoverer of the object.
The National Science Foundation said it’s the farthest comet ever detected on its next path, giving us years to watch it evolve as it gets closer to the sun.
The comet is also a rare visitor to the jungle neck: “It hasn’t visited the solar system in more than 3 million years,” Bernstein said in statement.
A comet, estimated to be 60 to 120 miles across, or about 10 times the diameter of most comets, is an icy remnant erupted from the Solar System by migrating giant planets in the early history of the Solar System.
This comet is very different from any other comet we’ve seen before, the National Science Foundation said, and the estimate of the huge size depends on how much sunlight it reflects.
At its current pace, the comet will travel from its current point just past Neptune’s orbit to approach Saturn’s orbit in 2031, Smithsonian magazine said.
The object would likely be as bright as Pluto’s moon Charon at that point, according to New AtlasSo it’s likely that people here on Earth will need to rely on telescopes to take pictures of them. Then you will return to the distant space from whence it came.
The comet likely came from the Oort cloud, which is thought to be a giant spherical crust that surrounds the solar system, according to NASA. Most long-range comets like this one come from the Oort Cloud, NASA said.
It could be the largest object ever detected from the Oort cloud, and the first comet on an incoming trajectory to be detected so far.
Astronomers think there may be more undiscovered comets of this size waiting in the Oort cloud. These giant comets are believed to have spread to the far reaches of the solar system by the migrations of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune early in their history.
The comet was named Bernardinelli-Bernstein after the astronomers who discovered it: Pedro Bernardinelli (Also from the University of Pennsylvania) and Gary Bernstein. Its official name is 2014 UN271.