Comet Three Times Bigger Than Mount Everest Is Heading Towards Earth After Exploding

By Abdul Rafay in Science and Technology On 20th October 2023

A massive comet approaching Earth that is three times the size of Mount Everest is currently in motion.

Credits: British Astronomical Association

And when we say it's large, we mean it—the cold volcano comet is projected to be 18.6 miles in diameter.

The enormous celestial object's nucleus is filled with cryomagma, a mixture of gas, ice, and dust.

Regaining its 'horned' features, the comet 12P/Pons-Brooks, sometimes known as 12P for short, recently erupted in space for the second time in four months.

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The comet exploded because the pressure inside the comet increased as a result of solar radiation striking it.

Getty Images

Through cracks in the shell of the nucleus, it then blasts its icy inside into space, giving the comet its horn-like characteristics.

Regarding its distinctive qualities, Richard Miles of The British Astronomical Association (BAA) stated: "The two ‘horns’ may be caused by a peculiarly-shaped cryovolcanic vent with some sort of blockage causing the material to be expelled with a weird flow pattern."

Miles lists 20 comets known to have active ice volcanoes, 12P being one of them.

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The comet has been closely observed by the BAA.

Comet Chasers/Richard Miles

The BAA stated that on October 5, scientists noticed that 12P had become dozens of times brighter than usual as a result of the additional light reflecting from its extended coma. This led them to conclude that the second explosion had occurred.

Jose Manuel Pérez Redondo captured images of the explosion using the 2.0-meter Faulkes Telescope North, which is situated on the Hawaiian island of Maui.

Even though comet 12P is currently headed toward Earth, it will take some time for it to get to the closest point to the planet.

The comet will come closest to Earth on April 21, 2024, according to LiveScience.

Eliot Herman

Since it isn't predicted to return our way until 2095, if you consider yourself an astronomer, you might want to haul out your telescope in case it is visible to the unaided eye at that time.

You'll be happy to hear that it won't be too close to us, though.

At its closest point, it will really be a staggering 232 million kilometers distant from us.

Scientists have been aware of 12P for a while; it was initially identified on July 12, 1812, by Jean-Louis Pons.

William Robert Brooks made an independent discovery of it in 1883, which is why it is known as the 12P/Pons-Brooks.

The eruption that occurred in July was the first for comet 12P in a span of 69 years.

The comet's coma, or horns, swelled to a staggering 7,000 times broader at that time than the comet's core.

The BBA reports that the explosion earlier this month was "twice as intense" as the previous one that occurred over the summer, while it is still unclear how big the coma expanded during that event.