Since it appeared on Netflix do not searchIn the apocalyptic film with Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence about the apocalypse, comets have earned a bad name, and have ended up among the potential enemies of life on Earth.
In fact, the probability of one of these cosmic bodies colliding with our planet is very remote, but despite this, comets are constantly monitored, especially if they pass close to the Earth. How does it happen C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRS).
Guilty break records
A massive comet has entered the final stage of its million-year journey towards the sun In the deepest part from our solar system. By mid-July, its closest pass to Earth is expected.
Scientists have known comet C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRS) – friends’ K2 – for several years: the Hubble telescope first spotted it in 2017, when the active comet was entering the solar system in addition to never seen before. This record was broken a few years later, in 2021, when Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein was discovered from the Cerro Todolo observatory. However, K2 retains a decent second place.
At that moment, the comet, which was nothing more than a ball made up of frozen gas, rocks and dust, was present 1.5 billion km Far from our sun, even farther than Saturn. Even at this distance, K2 was heating up and developed around it a cloud of dust and gas about 80,000 miles wide.
Scientists believe that C/2017 K2 comes from Oort clouda huge ball of icy bodies orbiting our star far from the most distant planets in the solar system.
Journey close to Earth
A comet has traveled once too long distance, passing through the orbits of Neptune, Uranus, Saturn and Jupiter before entering the asteroid belt that separates the inner and outer solar system. So it’s now in our neighborhood, if we are to say so.
Its closest pass to Earth is scheduled for July 14, but at this point it is necessary to make a note: the term is used neighbor, but in the astronomical field this word has a different meaning. K2 will actually be far from Earth Mars. Not around the corner then permission.
The “close” clip of C/2017 K2 will be a good opportunity for scientists and anyone with a small garden telescope to study it. Above all, comets are a tool for astronomers More unique than rareBecause they hold the fingerprints of our solar system when it formed billions of years ago.
This close encounter with K2 will also allow us to resolve a suspicion that has divided scientists who have studied the comet: its size. According to Hubble observations, K2 is 18-19 kilometers wide, but for the CFHT telescope (Canada, France, Hawaii), its core is much larger: between 30 and 160 kilometers.