NASA has the largest comet ever observed. And it’s coming towards us at lightning speed. Although according to the American space program, we should not worry.
At 128 kilometres in diameter, comet C/2014 UN271 is the largest ever observed by astronomers. The comet’s nucleus, the solid nucleus, is about fifty times larger than the interior of most known comets. And it is estimated that the comet weighs 500 trillion tons, which is about a hundred thousand times greater than the mass of comets more often spotted near the sun.
At a speed of more than 32,000 kilometres per hour, that comet is currently travelling from the far corner of our solar system. But we shouldn’t panic, NASA says. The comet will never come closer than 1.6 billion kilometres from our sun. And that will only happen in the year 2031.
The comet was first spotted in November 2010 when it was still about 3 billion miles from the sun. But now, scientists could study him more clearly. “This comet is literally the tip of the iceberg for many thousands of comets that are too faint to notice in the more distant parts of the solar system,” said David Jewitt, 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 have always suspected that this comet must be large because it is so bright at such a great distance. Now we confirm that it is.”