In the coming hours, the huge comet C / 2017 K2 will approach our planet as close as possible

A giant celestial body twice the size of Mount Everest is approaching Earth

Last month, the news of the non-periodic comet C / 2017 K2 (PanSTARRS) reported approaching our inner solar system. This celestial body should be as close to the earth as possible on July 14, 2022.

NASA

It is one of the most distant active comets ever recorded by scientists.

And now this comet is almost here, and it’s an exciting moment for scientists, as the celestial object C / 2017 K2 is one of the most distant “active” comets ever discovered by man, according to a Space.com report released today .

“It’s like touching something from the dawn of the solar system,” David Jewitt, an astronomer at the University of California, Los Angeles, told Space.com. “This is possibly the most original object in the inner solar system at the moment.”

The mysterious comet was first discovered by the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (PanSTARRS) in Hawaii in May 2017. Also from this distance, between Saturn’s and Uranus’ orbits, it emitted a powerful coma (a cloud of dust and gas surrounding the comet’s core transforms sometimes to a “tail”) that extended 80,000 miles (130,000 km) into space.

According to astrophysicists, C / 2017 K2 was active for several years before the first image was taken, because the comet, according to the results of reverse modeling, was already rushing through space and spraying gas, at a distance of ≈ 35 AU from the Sun. (AU is an astronomical unit equal to the average distance from Earth to the Sun: 1 AU is approximately 93 million miles or 150 million kilometers).

Scientists can not understand exactly how the coma of this celestial body of the object was formed. After all, at such distances from our star, the energy from the sun’s rays would not suffice for the appearance of such a halo.

NASA

“According to our calculations, at a distance of 35 AU from the sun, the temperature in outer space is only 40 degrees above absolute zero,” Jewitt said. “So the water there is rock hard. So it can not be the cause of the activity we see at such great distances.”

But despite the mysterious nature of this celestial body, Jewitt believes that many comets can behave in this way, “astronomers simply did not have the opportunity to observe them.”

“What makes this comet so unique is that it was discovered early,” Jewitt said. “We were able to track how the comet changes as it moves away from the sun, over a wider range than has been done before.”

Jewitt traced the evolution of K2 to Oort’s clouds (a hypothetical region of the solar system that is the source of long-term kilometers) located at a distance of 2,000 to 200,000 AU. from the sun. It was probably an unexpected gravitational pressure from a star that passed the outer edges of the solar system that sent K2 on this unusual journey.

What other secret does K2 have? There are literally a few hours left until the moment when the comet approaches the earth as close as possible, and astronomers will make new observations of this amazing celestial traveler.

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Sources: Space.com, Wikipedia
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oort_Cloud)
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coma_(comet))
(https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/C/2017_K2_(PANSTARRS))
(https://www.space.com/comet-k2-surprising-scientists-since-discovery)

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