Watch: Striking details about 'largest comet ever seen' that is hurtling towards Earth at 22,000mph

Edited By: Srishti Singh Sisodia WION Web Team
Washington, US Updated: Apr 14, 2022, 02:54 PM(IST)

Representative image. Photograph:( Others )

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The US-based space agency revealed that the comet is heading towards Earth at 22,000 miles per hour 

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope confirmed the largest icy comet nucleus ever seen by astronomers, with a mass of 500 trillion tonnes. It is said to be a hundred thousand times greater than the mass of a typical "comet found much closer to the Sun". 

NASA revealed that the estimated diameter of the comet is appeared to be 80 miles across, which means it is larger than the US state of Rhode Island. 

The comet's nucleus is about 50 times bigger as compared to those found in most known comets, NASA says. 

The US-based space agency further revealed that the comet, C/2014 UN271 (Bernardinelli-Bernstein) is heading towards Earth at 22,000 miles per hour. 

However, there is no need to worry as it will not get closer to the planet. NASA noted: "It will never get closer than 1 billion miles away from the Sun, which is slightly farther than the distance of the planet Saturn. And that won't be until the year 2031." 

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"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," NASA quoted David Jewitt as saying who is a professor of planetary science and astronomy at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and co-author of the new study in The Astrophysical Journal Letters

"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," Jewitt added. 

"This is an amazing object, given how active it is when it's still so far from the Sun," said the paper's lead author Man-To Hui of the Macau University of Science and Technology, Taipa, Macau. 

"We guessed the comet might be pretty big, but we needed the best data to confirm this," Hui added. 

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NASA-comet

Image Credits: NASA, ESA, Man-To Hui (Macau University of Science and Technology), David Jewitt (UCLA); Image processing: Alyssa Pagan (STScI)

NASA stated that the team used Hubble to take five photos of the comet on January 8, 2022. 

News about asteroids and meteorites barrelling toward Earth reminds of a popular Hollywood movie 'Don't Look Up' which was basically a satire. In the movie, two astronomers warn about an approaching comet that will destroy planet Earth, but the warning was overlooked resulting apocalypse. 

However, the reality is quite far from the movie as there is no doubt about the fact that space agencies around the world send alerts and remain vigilant. 

WATCH this explanation NASA: 

 

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