128Km wide COMET is flying towards us at blistering speed; Will Earth END in 2031?
The largest comet in the solar system, Bernardinelli-Bernstein, is headed towards the Earth. What can happen if a comet as large as a dwarf planet strikes the Earth? NASA may have the answer.
A few weeks ago, NASA reported that the largest comet in the solar system was heading towards the Earth. The comet, named C/2014 UN271 or Bernardinelli-Bernstein (BB) after the discoverers Pedro Bernardinelli and Gary Bernstein, is an interstellar comet making a way towards the Sun. But before that, it will come dangerously close to the Earth. Scientists are worried if the comet deviates from its path even the slightest, it might be the end of the Earth and all of humanity. So what exactly can happen if this dwarf planet-sized comet comes knocking at the Earth's door and how likely is it to happen? Read on to find out.
The comet, C/2014 UN271, was first spotted in October 2014. Right now the comet is traveling through the Oort cloud and is moving towards the Sun at an extremely high speed of 35,000 km/h. The comet is estimated to be around 128 kilometers wide, making it the largest comet ever spotted.
NASA: What can happen to the Earth if the comet strikes
There are three important factors, according to NASA, which determine how bad an impact from a celestial object can be. The first is the size, the larger the body, the larger the damage. 66 million years ago, the asteroid that made dinosaurs go extinct and brought on an ice age was about 10 kilometers wide. And it is assumed that a 10-15 kilometers wide asteroid is enough to cause an apocalypse level event.
The second parameter is speed of the object. A slower moving object will have less kinetic energy which will get dissipated slower. On the other hand, a fast moving object will transfer a larger amount of energy at a very fast rate causing higher damage. The final parameter is composition. What the comet is made up of also plays a role in the eventual strike to the Earth. Generally, rocky bodies are more dangerous while icy bodies get evaporated once they enter the atmosphere and cause less damage.
With all three parameters considered, the comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein is capable of instantly exploding the Earth into smithereens and destroying all life in a split second. However, according to current projections by NASA, the comet is about to miss our planet by a humble distance of 1 billion miles when it makes the closest approach in 2031. For reference, that distance is greater than the distance between the Earth and Neptune. For now, all we can do is hope that the comet does not change its course.
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