New Zealand scores the first marks

New Zealand scores the first marks

Astronomy scientists New Zealand They made use of the time zone: they were the first to discover the first signs of activity in a kite Record size C/2014 UN271, also known as Bernardinelli – Bernstein.

This 3D illustration shows the distant comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein as seen in the outer solar system. It is the farthest comet ever detected. Photo: NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/J. Da Silva

They were able to observe and record a coma, or an area of ​​gas and dust, scattered around a megaloblastic, which can be a thousand times larger than a typical comet. Moreover, it may be the largest comet ever found in history.


The recording was made on June 23 at 4:00 a.m. GMT, when it was 5:00 p.m. in New Zealand. The team monitoring the images captured by the Las Cumbres Observatory (LCO) is distributed around the world, and the images were taken by one of the LCO telescopes located at the Astronomical Observatory in South Africa.

“Other people were asleep,” Michelle Bannister, a member of the LCO team at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, recalled in a statement released on Wednesday (14).

However, Bannister initially thought the new images would fail, thanks to a problem Satellites It passes through the field of view of telescopes.

He revealed that “the first image was obscuring the comet by a satellite track, and I was disappointed.” “But the others were clear enough, and there was certainly a nice haze, not as sharp as the neighboring stars,” the astronomer celebrates.

What caught his eye was the sight of a colossal zombie appearing at an incredible distance from the sun. Bernardinelli-Bernstein was about 19 astronomical units (AU) from the Sun when the image was taken (one AU is the average distance from Earth to the Sun, about 150 million km). This is almost twice the distance between Saturn and our star.

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However, a comet has a lot of mass available to heat it up. The massive Bernardinelli-Bernstein nucleus is estimated to be more than 100 kilometers in diameter, which is three times the size of the largest known comet nucleus: Helle-Bopp, a famous naked-eye comet that passed through Earth in 1998.

However, unfortunately for enthusiastic astronomers, Bernardinelli-Bernstein will not get very close to our planet. The closest mega-measured approach to the Sun will remain behind Saturn in January 2031, and astronomers will have a decade to plan for this observation.

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