Monday, 24 Jun 2024

Huge comet three times the size of Everest is hurtling towards Earth

A huge comet, three times the size of Mount Everest, is racing towards Earth with its path mapped out by modelling. But, luckily, the comet, named 12P/Pons-Brooks, will narrowly miss Earth when it glides past on April 21, 2024.

The unusual occurrence was spotted when the comet suddenly began to shine dozens of times brighter in the sky. The British Astronomical Association (BAA), which has been closely monitoring 12P, detected the explosion because of the light reflected.

Comets are normally icy balls of gas, rock and dust but 12P/Pons-Brooks is a cold volcano, also known as a cryovolcanic – comet. 

It measures a colossal 18.6 miles (30 kilometres) in diameter, and it erupted on October 5.

As the comet gets closer to the sun, the gas and ice crystals inside the 18-mile-wide comet begin to heat up, building up pressure inside.

This can lead to a violent eruption which shoots out streams of “cryomagma” through cracks in the surface. This is what reflects the sunlight and creates a sort-of haze around the comet.

Some experts joked that the irregular shape of the coma also makes the comet look like a spaceship, such as the Millennium Falcon from ‘Star Wars’. 

Citing BAA, Live Science reported that for now, it is unclear how large the coma grew during the most recent eruption, but there are signs the outburst was “twice as intense” as the previous one. 

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According to modelling, 12P/Pons-Brooks will pass between the orbits of Venus and Earth, but by the time it does, planet Earth will be safely on the other side of the Sun.

The comet, 12P/Pons-Brooks, was first discovered in 1812, and completely orbits the sun every 71 years. It was last visible to the Earth in 1954.

Scientists said that the comet won’t reach its closest point to Earth until 2024 when it will become visible to the naked eye. This comet will then be catapulted back into the solar system, and won’t make its cosmic comeback until the year 2095.

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