‘Devil comet’ will bring its horns swooping by Earth this summer – DNyuz

‘Devil comet’ will bring its horns swooping by Earth this summer

Comet chasers: Give the devil his due.

A comet with two distinct “horns” of gas and ice, earning it the nickname “devil comet” is speeding through the inner solar system and may be visible to the naked eye in the spring when it reaches its closest point to Earth.

The celestial object, formally known as Comet 12/P Pons-Brooks, does not pose a threat to the planet. Instead, the cosmic interloper provides an opportunity for skywatchers to try to spot the comet as it nears Earth on its 71-year orbit around the sun.

Comet 12/P Pons-Brooks will reach perihelion, or the point in its orbit closest to the sun, on April 21, 2024. Shortly after that, on June 2, the comet will pass closest to Earth. During that time, if conditions are clear and skies are dark enough, astronomers have said that the comet may be bright enough to see with the naked eye.

In the meantime, Comet 12/P Pons-Brooks has been putting on a show for those with powerful telescopes.

Astronomers have observed the comet erupt twice in the past four months — once in July and again earlier this month.

During both outbursts, the comet brightened significantly and spewed clouds of gas and icy debris that looked like two matching horns. compared the unique appearance of the comet after its eruption to that of the Millennium Falcon from the “Star Wars’ franchise.

Eliot Herman, an amateur astronomer and retired professor in the University of Arizona’s School of Plant Sciences, captured stunning images of the Comet 12/P Pons-Brooks and its devil horns using two remote telescopes in Utah.

The coma is a cloud of bright gas surrounding a dusty core. Sunlight and solar radiation can heat the comet’s core, sometimes causing violent outbursts like the ones observed in July and Oct.

Herman said the comet’s temporary horns are thought to originate from these icy eruptions. It is possible that the comet structure influences how the clouds of gas or ice emitted from the comet appear to telescopes on Earth.

But precisely what is happening is not well understood, according to Herman.

“By observing it more intensively, we may be able to resolve this mystery. There is a group of observers studying the issue,” he said in an email.

Comet 12/P Pons-Brooks was discovered in 1812 by a French astronomer, Jean-Louis Pons. The object was observed again in 1883 by astronomer William Brooks. After its close approach in the spring, the comet will not return to the inner solar system again for another 71 years.

Astronomers are keen to study Comet 12/P Pons-Brooks as it passes near Earth, and before it swings around the sun and hurtles back into the outer solar system.

The timing of its approach coincides with a total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024. At that time, Herman said Comet 12/P Pons-Brooks will be close to the sun and possibly bright enough to see with the naked eye.

“The NASA SOHO probe takes images of comets near the sun many times per year. However, seeing a comet with an eye so close is not possible unless the eclipse occurs, which will happen,” Herman said. “I will be in Texas and hope to see it and photograph it.”

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