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Space: The Hubble telescope reveals the largest comet ever observed

Space: The Hubble telescope reveals the largest comet ever observed

Thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope, scientists have discovered the largest comet ever observed: Bernardinelli-Bernstein. With a diameter of about 140 km, it appears to be heading towards Earth.

But don’t panic: “You won’t get any closer to us than Saturn,” NASA points out. So it will not hit the ground.

Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein (or C/2014 UN271) was first observed in 2010 by Pedro Bernardinelli and Gary Bernstein. Then it was impossible to estimate its size. In fact, like all comets, this comet has a core made of ice and dust, followed by a gas trajectory. The difficulty was to separate the clouds from the core, so that we could measure its diameter.

Thanks to a series of images taken by Hubble in January, the diameter of the core can be recorded and transmitted in Astrophysical Journal Letters. About 136 km, the distance between Paris and Orléans. This is 50 times larger than the nuclei of most known comets.

“We have always considered this comet large, because it was shining from such a distance. We confirm today that this is the case,” said David Jewett, professor of planetary sciences and astronomy in California and co-author of the study.

The previous comet that held the record for the largest nucleus was C/2002 VQ94 with a diameter of 96 kilometers.

Comets are remnants of the formation of our solar system. Of variable size, it revolves around the Sun following an elliptical path. When they approach it, they heat up and release gases and dust: this is the famous luminous path.

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