According to the British Astronomy Association, a large comet known as 12P/Pons-Brooks has experienced two explosions within a span of four months while approaching Earth. Astronomers have closely monitored the comet and its “outbursts,” which involve sudden and significant releases of dust and gas. Some have even compared its appearance to that of the Millennium Falcon or a horned devil.
It is possible that observers will have the opportunity to see it in 2024, as it will be at its closest distance to the sun.
Richard Miles from the BAA stated in an email to CBS News that the comet measures approximately 18 to 25 miles and is enveloped by a substantially thin layer of dust and gas.
Based on the coverage of space-related information by Spaceweather.com.
According to Live Science, some onlookers believed that the curved comet emitted sharp beams of light resembling horns of the devil.
In most instances, approximately 3-4% of comets experience outbursts where particles are expelled from the comet’s nucleus and disperse over time.
Miles explained that the comet 12P/Pons-Brooks, with its prominent nucleus, creates a shadow effect around the gas and dust outburst. This is caused by the dust passing over the nucleus, similar to air passing over a plane’s wing, resulting in the distinct hollowed-out shape and horns that resemble the Millenium Falcon spaceship.
The comet has been referred to as “Halley-like” and Miles explained that this term was created some decades ago to characterize comets with elongated elliptical paths around the sun, which take between 20 and 200 years to complete one orbit.
“According to him, Halley’s orbit lasts 76 years while Pons-Brooks takes 71 years. Therefore, both events happen only once in a lifetime.”
According to the speaker, the comet will reach its closest point to the sun on April 21 and then to Earth on June 2. It may be visible during its approach to the sun.
NASA has classified 12P/Pons-Brooks as a comet that is in close proximity to Earth. However, Miles has noted that it is approximately 70 times the distance from Earth compared to our moon, making a collision highly improbable.
Miles mentioned that the potential for life to develop on comets such as these is also uncertain due to the abundance of elements present in them.
According to Miles, comets often contain frozen substances such as water, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide. However, they also have a variety of other compounds that can react with these main components. In larger, slower-rotating comets, these compounds can mix with dust to form a crust. Underneath this crust, different mixtures can melt, including water ice in certain areas, creating aqueous solutions.
According to Miles, the presence of comets orbiting the sun prompts the possibility of them serving as a potential environment for the formation of life. This could potentially lead to the transport of life and water to a planet similar to Earth.