Hubble Confirms Big Comet With 85-Mile-Large ‘Dirty Snowball’ Nucleus

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has determined the size of the largest icy comet nucleus ever seen by astronomers.

4-BILLION-YEAR-OLD

The nucleus is about 50 times larger than found at the heart of most known comets. Its mass is estimated to be a staggering 500 trillion tons.

50 times larger

The behemoth comet, C/2014 UN271 (Bernardinelli-Bernstein) is barreling this way at 22,000 miles per hour from the edge of the solar system.

22,000 miles per hour

It will never get closer than 1 billion miles away from the Sun, which is slightly farther than the distance of the planet Saturn. And that won't be until the year 2031.

But not to worry

The previous record holder is comet C/2002 VQ94, with a nucleus estimated to be 60 miles across. It was discovered in 2002 by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) project.

Previous Record

The comet has been falling toward the Sun for well over 1 million years. It is coming from the hypothesized nesting ground of trillions of comets, called the Oort Cloud.

Oort Cloud

The Oort Cloud's comets didn't actually form so far from the Sun; instead, they were tossed out of the solar system billions of years ago by a gravitational "pinball game" among the massive outer planets, when the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn were still evolving.

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