In a stunning celestial display, a comet three times the size of Mount Everest blasted dozens of times on its path toward Earth this year, allowing scientists to spot some of its most spectacular features.
The cosmic body is officially known as Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks, known by its abbreviation 12P, and is described as a “cold volcano”.
The space rock is called the “Devil's Comet” because it produces “horns” during the explosion, and the space rock violently ejects ice and gas every 15 days.
The most recent eruption was recorded on December 14, and the next eruption is likely to occur on December 29 or 30.
12P shows volcanic activity, but instead of spewing molten rock and lava-like lava onto Earth, an icy volcanic comet spews a mixture of gases and ice.
The space rock, about 28 km (18 mi) in diameter, rotates over a two-week period, keeping its icy volcanic vent toward the Sun, generating intense heat.
When a cold, volcanic comet approaches the Sun, like 12P, it heats up and increases pressure in the nucleus.
Pressure builds until nitrogen and carbon monoxide explode, spewing icy debris through large fissures in the core's crust.
These gas streams can form distinctive shapes like “devil's horns” when viewed through telescopes.
This space rock is about the size of the famous Halley's Comet and was last seen with the naked eye on Earth in 1954.
12P is also referred to as a “Halley-type comet” because it takes 71 years to orbit the Sun and is of the same type as the most famous space rock in history, which takes 75 years to orbit our star. Thousands of years like most comets.
12P is expected to make its closest approach to Earth in April 2024, and will also be visible to the naked eye in May and June 2024. The night sky will be bright on June 2, 2024. (RT)
“Professional coffee fan. Total beer nerd. Hardcore reader. Alcohol fanatic. Evil twitter buff. Friendly tv scholar.”