Mega-comet will be strolling through our solar system
#1
WoW!!

Mega-comet will be strolling through our solar system

[Image: 210623.comet.2014-UN271.jpg]



CAPTION: An object with an orbit that takes it almost a light-year from the Sun is about to pay us a visit. We have almost a decade's warning because it is unusually large for a visitor from such a distance; it could become the largest comet ever seen. Although estimates of the object 2014 UN271's trajectory are changing rapidly as we find more observations in the records, the current best guess is it last came within the orbits of the planets 3 million years ago, and it will be even longer before it comes back.

In astronomical terms “eccentricity” is a measure of how elongated an orbit is. A perfectly round orbit has an eccentricity of zero, whereas one that is almost infinitely longer than it is wide has a value approaching one. On this basis, 2014 UN271 is indeed very eccentric (with an estimate of 0.99948 made by one of its discoverers), but it also fits the bill in more colloquial terms, since it's not like any object we've seen before.

2014 UN271 is at least 100 kilometers (60 miles) wide, and could be as much as 370 kilometers (230 miles) across. If it's a comet, as most objects are that have orbits like this are, it's a candidate for the largest we have ever seen. The closest competitor is thought to be the Comet of 1729 (Comet Sarbat), which was probably around 100 kilometers (60 miles) wide. On the other hand, if it never ends up producing a tail there's the question of how something with that composition ended up reaching distances a thousand times further from the Sun than Neptune.


The good news is, we have plenty of time to study it. Our first images of 2014 UN271 were made when it was approximately as far from the Sun as Neptune, but since then it has cut that distance by a quarter. In 2031 it will almost touch the orbit of Saturn, before starting its outward journey again. That's not close enough for a really good view, barring a sudden scrambling of NASA priorities to send a mission to intercept it. However, given 2014 UN271's size, the JWST may give us quite a view, if it's finally been launched by then.

One should have an open mind; open enough that things get in, but not so open that everything falls out
Art Bell
  
I don't need a good memory, because I always tell the truth.
Jessie Ventura

Its no wonder truth is stranger than fiction.
Fiction has to make sense
Mark Twain

If history doesn't repeat itself, it sure does rhyme.
Mark Twain

You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.
C.S. Lewis

Political Correctness is Fascism pretending to be manners.
George Carlin

“In a time of deceit…truth is a revolutionary act”
George Orwell
Reply
#2
(06-23-2021, 12:52 PM)Zedta Wrote: In 2031 it will almost touch the orbit of Saturn, before starting its outward journey again. 

Guess that means it won't make much of a target for a backyard telescope. Oh well :P
Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomine Tuo da gloriam.
[-] The following 1 user Likes Joe T's post:
  • Zedta
Reply
#3
Ya its a whopper of a comet, but it's orbit does not take it very deep into the solar system, luckily, since it is so large it could cause some big damages in the 'crowded' inner solar system area. I guess the astronomers will enjoy it.
One should have an open mind; open enough that things get in, but not so open that everything falls out
Art Bell
  
I don't need a good memory, because I always tell the truth.
Jessie Ventura

Its no wonder truth is stranger than fiction.
Fiction has to make sense
Mark Twain

If history doesn't repeat itself, it sure does rhyme.
Mark Twain

You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.
C.S. Lewis

Political Correctness is Fascism pretending to be manners.
George Carlin

“In a time of deceit…truth is a revolutionary act”
George Orwell
[-] The following 1 user Likes Zedta's post:
  • Joe T
Reply




Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)