In a nutshell: Comet C/2014 UN271 was first found by Pedro Bernardinelli and Gary Bernstein in archival photographs taken from the Dark Energy Survey on the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. Astronomers suspected it have to be fairly huge given its brightness at such a big distance, and now they’ve a significantly better estimate because of Hubble.
The comet remains to be too distant for its stable nucleus to be visually resolved by Hubble, so astronomers needed to make a pc mannequin of the encircling coma and alter it to suit Hubble’s photographs. Then, the coma was subtracted, forsaking the starlike nucleus.
The knowledge was then in comparison with earlier observations from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile.
All knowledge thought-about, it’s believed the icy comet has a nucleus measuring roughly 80 miles throughout. That’s roughly 50 occasions bigger than the nucleus of most recognized comets. The object’s mass can also be estimated to be 500 trillion tons, or 100 thousand occasions better than the mass of a typical comet discovered nearer to the Sun.
The earliest recognized precovery picture of the comet dates to November 2010 when it was three billion miles away from the Sun. Precovery, or pre-discovery restoration, includes searching for an object in earlier images earlier than it was formally found. Often, this offers a greater understanding of an object’s orbit.
Fortunately, the comet poses no danger at the same time as it’s touring round 22,000 miles per hour from the sting of our photo voltaic system. Astronomers estimate it’s going to by no means get nearer than a billion miles away from the Sun, or a little bit greater than the space of Saturn from the Sun.
Image credit score Vittorio Staffolani