Not one, but even a few comets will fly around the earth the other day. One of them was the third among those who approached the planet so closely. Both space objects seem to have surprisingly similar orbits, which are key to unlocking the origin of comets. The identity of the fragments is verified with a 4, 3 meter telescope at Lowell Observatory, near Flagstaff, Arizona.
Discovered by PanSTARRS in Hawaii in January of this year, Comet P / 2016 BA14 was originally identified as asteroid, but after the University of Maryland worked together with the Lowell Observatory team, it became clear that this is actually a small comet.
This discovery coincides with the expected flight of the comet 252P on March 21, which will pass by our planet at a close (but safe) distance of 3, 3 million miles (approximately 14 distances from Earth to the Moon). 252P was discovered in 2000 at the Lincoln Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The object was located near the Earth. As you know, it was about 250 meters wide. It is believed that Comet P / 2016 BA14 is exactly half of this size, and it will fit several times closer to Earth at a distance of 2.2 million km (9 distances from Earth to the Moon). During the flight of P / 2016 BA14, a collision of two objects will be detected, as well as during the flight of comet D / 1770 P1 in 1770 and C / 1983 H1 and in 1983.
This phenomenon is absolutely normal in nature, but a double explosion is not exactly a coincidence. In fact, these two objects were most likely once part of the same comet.
Graphic representation of the distance of the orbits of comets from the Earth-Moon system
“Comet P / 2016 BA14, possibly a fragment of 252P / LINEAR,” said Paul Chodas, manager of NASA Research at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, in a NASA press release. “They could be connected because their orbits are so amazingly similar.”
“We know that comets are relatively fragile things, as then in 1993. Perhaps during their previous passage through the inner Solar System or during the flight next to Jupiter, the piece that we now know as BA14 may have broken away from 252P. ”
How massive are the comets and what threat can they pose to our planet?
“On March 22, Comet P / 2016 BA14 will fly as close to Earth as possible and next time it will reach us at least 150 years later,” the scientist added. “Comet P / 2016 BA14 is not a threat. This is simply a great opportunity for scientific advancement in the study of comets. ” Due to the very small size of these comets from the constellation Libra will be very difficult to observe. Only using the most powerful telescope with the latest technological additions, NASA will be able to achieve results and detect the necessary objects.
Discovery Telescope will monitor these comets. It is designed to track objects in orbit of the Sun to places such as Kuiper Belt (beyond Pluto), including comets flying throughout the Solar System. The telescope also specializes in the study of dwarf galaxies.
Such powerful telescopes are crucial to protect the Earth from comets and asteroids, which are a threat to some parts of humanity. With their help, you can not only save the planet from damage, but also learn about the origin and size of the asteroid.