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HomeNewsThere's a Massive Space Rock With Horns Racing Towards Earth: Is It...

There’s a Massive Space Rock With Horns Racing Towards Earth: Is It the Big Bang All Over Again?

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A massive “devil” comet more than three times the size of Mount Everest has exploded and is headed for Earth. It sounds dangerous; picture apocalyptic movies with the same plot, and you’ll understand just how dangerous it is. 

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This is the second time the comet is exploding on its journey towards Earth. Since it got on the authorities’ radar, they have kept strict vigilance and deciphered some of its attributes. Here’s what we know. 

They Call It 12P/Pons-Brooks 

Scientists have named the comet 12P/Pons-Brooks. It is about 18 miles in diameter and is described as a “cold volcano” because it ejects ice and gas.

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These ejections leave a trail of material behind the comet as it makes its way through space at thousands of miles an hour, attracted by the solar system’s pull. 

When Was It Discovered?

The comet was first discovered in 1812. Scientists call it a “devil” comet because the materials that trail behind it look a lot like a pair of devil horns. 

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Is the devil himself finally coming to destroy Earth? After all, the last time a massive rock from space hit Earth, it wiped out most of the pre-existing life forms. 

Are Earthlings Safe? 

For now. The comet will allegedly reach its closest point in its orbit to Earth in June 2024, but don’t spend your life savings yet. It won’t get close enough to pose a danger to earthlings.

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Man and comet
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Scientists have said that 12P/Pons-Brooks will probably be visible to the naked eye as a faint star-like blob with a hazy tail when it reaches its closest point to Earth. 

Attributes of the 12P/Pons-Brooks 

Comets generally consist of a nucleus made up of ice, dust, and small rocky particles. An outer hazy cloud of gases surrounds this nucleus. 

Parts of a comet
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12P/Pons-Brooks has been tagged as a cryovolcanic or cold volcano comet with active volcanic activity. However, rather than ejecting molten rock and lava, cryovolcanic comets release a mix of ice and gas. 

12P/Pons-Brooks and the Sun 

When a cryovolcanic comet enters the sun’s proximity like the 12P/Pons-Brooks is doing now, it gets heated, and pressure builds in the nucleus.  

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The sun
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The pressure gradually builds until nitrogen and carbon monoxide explode, flinging out icy debris via large cracks in the nucleus’s shell. These gaseous streams form the distinctive shapes we observe through a telescope, such as devil horns. 

What Experts Are Saying 

Arizona-based astronomer Eliot Herman has been monitoring the comet. According to him, it suddenly brightened on October 31, and the glow became brighter in the following days. 

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This indicates a new outburst of cryovolcanic activity, ultimately leading to horns sprouting. So far, the 12P/Pons-Brooks has had three explosions between July and November. 

The Devil Comet Made an Appearance on Halloween 

12P/Pons-Brooks has been commonly called the “devil comet” by media outlets. This is because it has had two previous outbursts that produced a devil with horns appearance. 

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The devil comet appeared again on Halloween, this time with a giant outburst that extended into the next day. 

What Is the Comet Doing? 

Comets are similar to planets in that they also orbit the sun, attracted to its powerful gravitational pull. 

Solar Orbit
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It will take the 12P/Pons-Brooks just over seven decades to complete its orbit of the sun. It may sound like a long time, but it is relatively short compared to most orbits’ orbital lengths. Some can even take thousands of years. 

Why Does It Seem Like It Is Headed for Earth? 

Comets usually have highly elliptical orbits. This means they are elongated rather than being perfectly circular. These elliptical orbits have them thread very close to the sun at some point in their orbit (perihelion). 

Comet headed for earth
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It also pushes them very far away from the sun at another point (aphelion). The closer comets get to the sun, the faster they accelerate. 

How Fast Is It Moving?

12P/Pons-Brooks is currently racing toward the sun – and, therefore, the Earth. Scientists have determined its speed to be more than 40,000 miles per hour (20 km per second).

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However, this speed could increase to over 100,000 miles per hour as the devil comet approaches the sun. This point is otherwise known as its perihelion. 

Are We Really Safe From the Devil Comet?

According to reports, 12P/Pons-Brooks will come as close as 72.5 million miles (116.8 million km) to the sun on April 21, 2024. 

Meteor showers
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After that, scientists believe it will get as close to Earth with only a distance of 144 million miles (232 million km) separating us on June 2. 

The Devil Comet Will Be Back 

The devil comet is projected to erupt as it travels towards Earth. The explosions are expected to be exponentially more violent than the previous ones. 

Comet passing
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After getting as close as it can possibly get to us next year, 12P/Pons-Brooks will be gravitationally flung back out to the outer solar system. However, it will return in 2095. 

Do you think Earth will still be safe then? 

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