Our solar system will host another comet as scientists have identified another massive space rock rushing toward the sun. Researchers studying the comet have estimated its potential arrival in 2031, or in ten years. Discovered in October 2014, the comet could be the largest ever detected by humanity, according to a report from Space.com.
The asteroid measures 100 km
Named comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein or C / 2014 UN271, the asteroid is a massive object that measures nearly 100 kilometers in diameter (62 miles). Due to its enormous size, the discoverers of this space rock first confused it with a dwarf planet because it is 100 times larger than a typical comet.
Experts confirmed it to be a comet because they found a glowing tail following it, which is a common feature of a comet. In addition, the tail of the comet emerging from the heat of our solar system has solidified the fact that it is approaching the sun.
C / 2014 UN271 travels through an Oort cloud
Closer observations of the comet revealed that C / 2014 UN271 was heading towards us through an Oort cloud. An Oort Cloud is a huge region of space billions of miles from Earth and is filled with icy rocks. Currently, space rock is at a distance of 29 astronomical units or 29 times the distance between Earth and the sun and runs through the cloud, Space.com reported. Scientists have estimated that when it arrives in 2031, the comet will pass a distance of just over Saturn’s orbit, or about 10.97 AU from the sun.
No harm to the Earth
Although the approaching comet is the largest ever detected, scientists have assured the inhabitants of Earth will be safe. In addition, tracking the comet will only be possible with a high power telescope. Interestingly, the comet is not a new guest as it crossed our solar system 3.5 million years ago and crossed at a distance of 18 AU. Scientists believe that studying the approaching asteroid, especially those emerging from an Oort cloud, could help them broaden their understanding of the makeup of the early solar system.