A giant comet roars past the sun, scientists: approaching the earth in 2028 | giant comet | 2028 | approaching the earth |

A giant comet roars past the sun, scientists: approaching the earth in 2028 | giant comet | 2028 | approaching the earth |

[Voice of Hope February 7, 2023](Editor: Guo Xiao) Have you ever wondered what would happen if a comet or asteroid hit our planet? Do you believe that a scene like the movie Armageddon could actually happen? Unfortunately, about 100 tons of rock and stone particles fall from outer space onto Earth every day. And one of those asteroids dived into Earth and hit it about 65 million years ago, setting off a chain of events that eventually wiped out the dinosaurs and gave mammals like us a chance to rule the planet. However, we may not be able to stay at the top of the food chain for so long. The universe is ready to test humans. According to news, a huge comet has entered our solar system.

“Merkholtz I” (Wikipedia)

On January 31, a giant comet with a diameter of more than 6,000 meters roared past the sun. The comet, called Machholz 1 (96P/Machholz 1), isn’t anything special on the surface, but its unique composition and odd orbit suggest it may have come from something unusual. Meckholtz 1 is a short-period comet (5.28 Earth years) and a “Jupiter family comet”, meaning its orbit is constrained by Jupiter’s strong gravitational field. In 2008, scientists analyzed the chemical composition of “Merkholtz 1” and found that its cyanide content was less than 1.5% of that of ordinary comets, its carbon content was also very low, and its orbit had a weird inclination. Based on these characteristics, astronomers suspect that “Merkholtz-1” may come from outside the solar system.

It may have entered the solar system at some point in the past, was pulled by Jupiter’s gravity, and then orbited the sun instead. More than ten years ago, astronomers discovered two fragments in front of it. The reason for these two fragments is still a mystery. However, some scientists believe that it formed in an area with less cyanide content in the solar system, and it is close to the sun, and the cyanide it contains has evaporated. “Merkholtz 1” is also a “sungrazing comet”, and its perihelion is very close to the sun. This time, the distance between the perihelion of “Merkholtz 1” and the sun is only 0.12 astronomical units, which is only equivalent to one-third of the distance between Mercury and the sun. Ordinary “sun-grazing comets” are not large, and most of them have a diameter of less than 10 meters.

Due to the short distance and small size, many “sun-grazing comets” will disintegrate when they pass the perihelion, and even fall directly into the solar atmosphere and disappear. But “Merkholtz 1” is an exception. Its size is quite huge, equivalent to two-thirds of Mount Everest. It may be for this reason that it does not disintegrate easily when it passes close to the sun. Since it was discovered by American astronomer Donald Mekhertz in May 1986, “Mekherz-1” has successfully passed the perihelion six times in 2001, 2002, 2007, 2012, 2017, and January 2023. Scientists say that until 2028, when Meckholtz 1 approaches Earth, it may eventually escape from the solar system.

Editor in charge: Li Jingrou


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