Don't panic, huge comet from Oort Cloud is hurtling across our solar system; once in 6 lakh year event

Don't panic, huge comet from Oort Cloud is hurtling across our solar system; once in 6 lakh year event

The Oort Cloud lies far beyond Pluto and the most distant edges of the Kuiper Belt.

Yes, it is a huge comet and it is headed toward our sun. Scientists discovered its presence and path while studying old images from 2014 to 2018 taken for the Dark Energy Survey.

The credit goes to 2 astronomers from the University of Pennsylvania - Pedro Bernardinelli and Gary Bernstein - for first spotting the object heading inward from the Oort Cloud.

Bernardinelli announced the discovery on Twitter on June 19, 2021.

Don't panic, huge comet from Oort Cloud is hurtling across our solar system; once in 6 lakh year event
Newly spotted comet may be interstellar visitor  

Yes, it is a huge comet and it is headed toward our sun. Scientists discovered its presence and path while studying old images from 2014 to 2018 taken for the Dark Energy Survey.The credit goes to 2 astronomers from the University of Pennsylvania - Pedro Bernardinelli and Gary Bernstein - for first spotting the object heading inward from the Oort Cloud.Bernardinelli announced the discovery on Twitter on June 19, 2021.

What is the Oort Cloud?

The Oort Cloud lies far beyond Pluto and the most distant edges of the Kuiper Belt. While the planets of our solar system orbit in a flat plane, the Oort Cloud is believed to be a giant spherical shell surrounding the Sun, planets and Kuiper Belt Objects. It's like a big, thick bubble around our solar system, made of icy, comet-like objects. The Oort Cloud's icy bodies can be as large as mountains — and sometimes larger. (Source: NASA)

The scientists scoured the survey images and discovered 2014 UN271 moving from 29 astronomical units, or AU (1 AU is the distance between Earth and the sun), to 23 AU. At its closest approach, 2014 UN271 will come within about 10 AU to the sun, which is in the realm of Saturn.So, well, it turns out that the massive orbit of this mega comet extends between the inner solar system and the Oort cloud on the boundary of interstellar space - which spans around 6,12,190 years. The object is now named 2014 UN271. It’s thought to be the largest comet yet discovered, possibly as big as a dwarf planet. It’s far away and hard to see, but the current estimate suggests between 62 to 230 miles (100 to 370 km) in diameter.For comparison, just think of the Halley's Comet that visited our solar system in 1986. Its orbit is about 75.3 years on average but alters between 74 to 79 years as Jupiter's and Saturn's gravity can affect its orbit. Halley's Comet is about 9 miles by 5 miles/15 km by 8 km.So back to 2014 UN271. This mega comet will make its closest approach to us in 2031 when it’ll sail just outside of the orbit of Saturn. Saturn’s orbit is some 7 times farther from the sun than Earth’s orbit. So there’s no danger to us the ones living on Earth.Interestingly, while the scientists were on the full search of the six years of survey data for trans-Neptunian objects, they also discovered more than 800 other objects. Take a look at this animation that project how object 2014 UN271 will move about our solar system.

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