NASA’s Hubble Telescope has confirmed the size of the largest comet nucleus ever seen by astronomers, more than a decade after it was first pinpointed in 2010.
C/2014 UN271 is a behemoth comet whose diameter is approximately 80 miles, making it larger than Rhode Island in the United States.
Comet nuclei are typically 50 times larger than those of known comets. According to estimates, its mass is 500 trillion tonnes, which is a hundred thousand times larger than that of a typical comet.
“The behemoth comet is barreling this way from the edge of the solar system at 22,000 miles per hour,” NASA stated on its official site.
“And don’t worry: the comet will still not come any closer to The earth than Saturn,”NASA tweeted.
Big news! No. Really. @NASAHubble confirmed the largest comet ever. Its nucleus is bigger than Rhode Island.
— NASA (@NASA) April 12, 2022
Astronomers Pedro Bernardinelli and Gary Bernstein discovered comet C/2014 in images recorded from Chile’s Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory. It was observed in November 2010 at a distance of three billion miles from the Sun – roughly the same as Neptune.
The previous record was held by Comet C/2002 VQ94, whose nucleus was estimated to be 60 miles long. Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) discovered it in 2002.