The new year has already begun, but the cosmos is already set to make history in 2023. A comet discovered in less than a year has traveled thousands of miles from its believed origins to the edge of our solar system and will appear in the near future. A few weeks later, his only appearance was recorded.
The comet, C/2022 E3 (ZTF), was first seen in March 2022 as it traveled through Jupiter’s orbit. According to NASA, the comet has long been believed to come from the Oort Cloud, the outermost region of Earth’s solar system that is “like a large, thick, walled bubble made of icy fragments of local debris,” which can get even bigger. mountains The inner edge of this region is thought to be between 2,000 and 5,000 astronomical units from the sun — between 186 billion and 465 billion miles.
This means that C/2022 E3 (ZTF) will make a rare, once-in-a-lifetime trip to the nearest Earth.
“The best-known long-lived comets have only been seen once in recorded history because their orbital periods are so fine; for a long timeNASA says. “Innumerable long unknown comets have never been seen by human eyes. Some have orbits so long that the last time they passed through the inner solar system, our species did not yet exist.
One recent comet of this type, C/2013 A1 Spring Siding, previously visited the inner solar system and went by Mars in 2014, but according to the intervening period, it did not return for about 740,000 years.
Jessica Lee, an astronomer with the Royal Greenwich Observatory, told Newsweek that the E3 comet could be a similar case.
“We don’t have an estimate from Earth yet – different estimates – but if it does come back, it won’t be for at least 50,000 years,” he said. “… Some predictions suggest that this comet’s orbit is so eccentric that it will no longer be in orbit, so it will not return at all and will soon.”
Now, the newly discovered comet E3, which was seen with a green hair and a “short broad” tail of dust, is set to make its closest approach to the Sun on January 12. it will make its next approach to Earth on February 2. .
Astrophotographer Dan Bartlett managed to capture a picture of the comet in December from his backyard in California. He could see the “intricate tail structure” in the comet’s plasma tail, he said, and “the conditions are better.”
If all goes well and the comet continues to shine on its trajectory, NASA said it will be easily spotted with the help of binoculars. It is also possible that the city lights will be visible to the naked eye. Those in the Northern Hemisphere will be able to see the comet in the morning, while those in the Southern Hemisphere will be able to see it in early February, NASA said.
“Here comets are not quite waiting for the show that Comet NEOWISE is back in 2020,” the agency added. “But it’s still an awesome opportunity to make a personal connection with an icy visitor from the far outer solar system.”
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