Today’s Video of the Day from NASA Goddard describes the sighting of a giant comet that is hurtling toward the Earth. Fortunately, the closest the comet will come is one billion miles away from the Sun in the year 2031.
The comet is the largest ever spotted, with an estimated diameter of 80 miles across, and is approximately 50 times larger than typical comets. The mass is estimated at 500 trillion tons, which is one hundred thousand times greater than usual.
Scientists at UCLA used radio observations and photos captured by the Hubble space telescope to study the giant comet. “This is an amazing object, given how active it is when it’s still so far from the sun,” said study lead author Man-To Hui, who earned his doctorate from UCLA in 2019 and is now with the Macau University of Science and Technology. “We guessed the comet might be pretty big, but we needed the best data to confirm this.”
“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,”said study co-author and UCLA PR David Jewitt. “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.”
Image/ Video Credit: ESA