August 5, 2021

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New Zealand first detects early activity of Bernardinelli-Bernstein megacommot

New Zealand astronomers use jet lag: they were the first to detect the first signs of activity on the massive record-breaking comet C / 2014 UN 271, also known as Bernardinelli-Bernstein.

The 3D description shows that the distant comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein may have appeared in the outer solar system. This is the farthest comet you will find on your way. Image: NOIRLab / NSF / AURA / J. da Silva

Was able to observe and record a coma or zone of gas and dust, propagated around the megacometer, which is a thousand times larger than a regular comet. In addition, it is the largest comet ever seen in history.

The check-in took place on June 23 at 4:00 am Greenwich Mean Time, which is already 5:00 pm in New Zealand. The image tracking team captured by the Los Compress Laboratory (LCO) has spread around the world and the images have been captured on one of the LCO telescopes housed in the South African Astronomical Laboratory.

“The others were asleep,” Michael Bunnister, a member of the LCO team at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, said in a statement on Wednesday.

At first, however, Bannister thought that the new images were failing because of the widespread problem of satellites passing through the field of view of telescopes. “In the first picture the comet was obscured by a satellite path, and my heart sank,” he revealed. “But the others were very bright, of course there was a nice dim spot, not as sharp as the neighboring stars”, the famous astronomer said.

What caught his attention was a pulmonary coma that revealed an incredible distance from the sun. At the time of the filming, Bernardinelli-Bernstein had about 19 astronomical units (AU) from the Sun (an AU is the average distance from Earth to the Sun – about 150 million kilometers). This is twice the orbital distance of Saturn from the Sun.

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He said the comet has a large mass for warming. The gigantic Bernardinelli-Bernstein nucleus is estimated to be more than 100 km in diameter, three times the size of the next largest known comet – the famous naked-eyed comet Hale-Pop, which crossed the Earth in 1998.

Unfortunately for serious astronomers, Bernardinelli-Bernstein would not be too close to observe our planet.

The closest approach to the Sun’s megacolt will be beyond Saturn in January 2031, and astronomers should plan a decade for this view.

With information from Espace.com

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