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New study shows the largest comet ever observed was active at near-record distance


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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

A new study by University of Maryland astronomers shows that comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein (BB), the largest comet ever discovered, was active long before previously thought, meaning the ice within it is vaporizing and forming an envelope of dust and vapor known as a coma. Only one active comet has been observed farther from the sun, and it was much smaller than comet BB.

The finding will help astronomers determine what BB is made of and provide insight into conditions during the formation of our solar system. The finding was published in The Planetary Science Journal on November 29, 2021.

"These observations are pushing the distances for active comets dramatically farther than we have previously known," said Tony Farnham, a research scientist in the UMD Department of Astronomy and the lead author of the study.

https://phys.org/news/2021-11-largest-comet-near-record-distance.html

https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/PSJ/ac323d

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