Neither a comet nor a planet: where did this mysterious object near Earth come from? – Science – Life

In recent years, scientists have followed the space body called “2014 UN271” with great interest, which appears to be too large for a comet and too small to be a planet. In any case, this object of the composition of the Sun will precipitate in 2031 the closest to Earth since prehistory.


Photo: Profimedia

Photo: Profimedia

Its exact size is not yet known, but it is estimated that its diameter ranges from 100 to 370 km, most likely around 160 km.

“This means that it is similar in size or larger than the huge comet C / 1729 P1 and that it is probably the largest object ever discovered in the Oort cloud, which could be almost a dwarf planet,” he said. amateur astronomer Sam Dean.

Photo: Profimedia

Photo: Profimedia

While not large enough for a dwarf planet, “2014 UN271” could certainly be the largest Oort cloud object we’ve seen so far. The Oort cloud is a spherical cloud composed of comets and similar bodies that orbit the Sun at a distance of up to a quarter of the distance of the nearest stars.

Once again closed for 612,190 years

“2014 UN271” is larger than the modern-day engraver, Comet “Hale-Bopp” (C / 1995 O1), which was about 60 miles wide. The 1729 comet (C / 1729 P1) may have had a diameter of 100 kilometers, but it never approached Jupiter’s orbit, so observers at the time could not determine its exact size, he writes. ” Sky & Telescope “.

In 2031, this body will approach the closest to Earth in its last hundreds of thousands of years during its orbit and will be approximately the same distance as Saturn. It may not seem too close to some, but it’s actually a surprisingly short distance if you take the entire composition of the Sun as a measure.

Astronomers hope that then it will be clear enough for the unobstructed observation of this body from Earth, because it will be so close to us again only in 612,190 years, which is the time equivalent to the period since the existence of Neanderthals.

A special occasion

“UN271 2014” has an unusual trajectory, that is, an orbit around the Sun that leads it through all parts of this system. Sometimes it is relatively close to the Sun and sometimes travels to the end of our solar composition, flirting with interstellar space, writes Futurism.

It is an extremely rare event that a body orbiting so far from our star can access the inner solar system. Therefore, this will be an extraordinary opportunity for astronomers to study the appearance and structure of the body, such as “2014 UN2712”, without having to launch a probe into space and then wait years until it reaches a part. so far from our solar composition.

Unfortunately, this event will not be as “interesting” for amateur astronomers because “2014 UN271” will be less bright in the night sky of 2031, like Pluto or its moon Charon, so it will be very difficult to locate it without professional equipment.

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