A horned comet that looks like Han Solo's spaceship from Star Wars is hurtling toward Earth

Dmytro IvancheskulLife
Comet, first seen in 1812, has come to look like a ship from ''Star Wars''. Source: Deagostini/Comet Chasers/Faulkes Telescope Project/Las Cumbres Observatory/collage OBOZREVATEL

Comet 12P/Ponce Brooks, rushing to a cosmic rendezvous with Earth, during its journey turned into an object visually similar to the spaceship Millennium Falcon, on which flew the hero of Star Wars Han Solo. The comet is expected to approach our planet in 2024, somewhat late for a total solar eclipse.

Details about the amazing comet are shared by Insider. It is already being called one that is "once in a lifetime" (to see a photo of the comet, scroll down to the end of the news).

As noted, on July 20, the comet suddenly became 100 times brighter. After that, scientists noticed that it threw into space plumes of debris and ice. These plumes made it appear that the comet grew horns and became similar to Han Solo's spaceship.

According to Carrie Holt of the University of Maryland, the comet probably threw 10 billion kilograms of dust and ice into space.

At the same time, the reason that the comet, which revolves around the Sun every 71 years, erupted so brightly, scientists do not know exactly. They speculate that there may be an active ice volcano on the comet's surface that causes it to light up the sky.

"It's something of a revolutionary idea that there's liquid inside a comet, and scientists for decades haven't been able to accept that," said Richard Miles of the British Astronomical Association.

Comet 12P/Ponce Brooks

However, in his opinion, it cannot be explained otherwise. If Miles' version is correct, it supports the theory that comets not only brought water to Earth, but also helped spread the beginnings of life on our planet.

As Dr. Edward Gomez of the Las Cumbres Observatory (Wales) pointed out, comets originate from the Oort cloud, which is far beyond the orbit of Neptune and Uranus. This cloud contains everything left over from the creation of the solar system and, unlike the planets that appeared then, the objects in the cloud are in a pristine state, in the same conditions as they were some 4.5 billion years ago.

On June 2, 2024, scientists say the comet will come as close as possible to the Sun - about 144 million kilometers. A few weeks earlier - on April 8, 2024, some earthlings will be able to see a total solar eclipse.

"It's very rare to see a comet next to a darkened Sun," Miles revealed.

He noted that as the comet gets closer to Earth, it will likely shine so brightly that it can be seen even with the naked eye, although Miles still advises using binoculars.

"It's guaranteed to get much brighter, just as all comets get much brighter. It may also flash during the dimming," he said.

Right now, the comet can be observed in the constellation Dragon in the northern sky using a 15-centimeter amateur telescope.

"For now, it can only be seen in a telescope in a dark place, but during the dimming next April, it will be bright enough to be easily found with binoculars in your backyard, even if you live in the suburbs," Gomez said.

Comet 12P/Ponce Brooks and the Millennium Falcon.

Earlier OBOZREVATEL told about the fact that NASA found water and a new mystery in a rare comet in the solar system.

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