- Cold volcanic comet 12P/Pons-Brooks has a diameter of about 18.6 miles (30 km).
- 12P will be closest to Earth on April 21, 2024 and may be visible to the naked eye
Astronomers have revealed that a comet three times the size of Mount Everest has exploded in space and is now hurtling towards Earth.
It won’t actually hit us, but it may be visible to the naked eye when it reaches its closest approach to our planet on April 21, 2024.
This space rock, dubbed 12P/Pons-Brooks, is what is known as a cold volcanic comet or cold volcano.
It has a solid core estimated to be 18.6 miles (30 km) in diameter and is made up of ice, dust and gases that act a bit like carbonation in a soft drink bottle.
This is because when heated by the sun, pressure within this cold magma continues to build until nitrogen and carbon monoxide explode and spew icy debris through large cracks in the core’s crust.
12B/Pons-Brooks: Basic Facts
Discover: July 12, 1812
Orbital: 71 years old
Type of comet: Cryovolcanoes
Last rock bottom: May 22, 1954
Next perihelion: April 21, 2024
Core diameter: 18.6 mi (30 km)
Size at closest approach to Earth: +4 (visible with the naked eye)
This is the second time in four months this has happened to Pons Brooks, creating what looks like a huge pair of horns when viewed through a telescope.
Some have speculated that the horseshoe-like shape also resembles the Millennium Falcon spaceship in Star Wars.
This space rock is the size of the famous Halley’s Comet, and was last seen with the naked eye on Earth in 1954.
It is also referred to as a “Halley-type comet” because its 71-year orbit around the Sun puts it in the same category as history’s most famous space rock, which takes about 75 years to orbit our star, as opposed to thousands of years. Years like most comets.
Although Pons-Brooks will be at its closest to Earth in April 2024, it is expected to reach magnitude +4 so it will be visible to the naked eye in May and June 2024 as well.
It will be brightest in the night sky on June 2, 2024.
After it makes its closest approach to us, the space rock will be returned to the outer solar system and will not return until 2095.
Pons Brooks is currently located in the constellation Hercules and can be observed looking in an east-northeast direction about 36 degrees above the horizon.
As it continues to head toward Earth, the space rock will likely continue to explode, perhaps more violently than it already has.
However, it is by no means the most volatile volcanic comet in the solar system.
That honor belongs to 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann, which orbits the sun behind Jupiter at 26,000 miles per hour.
The ice ball is 37 miles (60 km) across. It is thought to erupt about 20 times a year, according to recent observations.
In December 2022, 29P experienced its largest eruption in about 12 years, spewing about 1 million tons of cold magma into space.
Explanation: The difference between an asteroid, a meteorite, and other space rocks
that asteroid It is a large piece of rock left over from collisions or the early solar system. Most of them are located between Mars and Jupiter in the main belt.
a Comet It is a rock covered in ice, methane, and other compounds. Their orbits take them far beyond the solar system.
a meteor It is what astronomers call the flash of light in the atmosphere when debris burns up.
This same wreck is known as A meteor. Most of them are so small that they evaporate into the atmosphere.
If any such meteorite reaches the Earth, it is called meteor.
Meteorites, meteorites, and meteorites usually originate from asteroids and comets.
For example, if Earth passes through the tail of a comet, much of the debris burns up in the atmosphere, forming a meteor shower.
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