Comet C/2017 S3 was seen on 5 July 2018. Credit: José J. Chambó/Cometografia.es
A giant, green-tinged comet is currently smashing the way through the night sky, what a number of people dub it the “Incredible Hulk” comet.” Tomorrow (Aug. 7), the object will be closest approach to the Earth, according to Sky and Telescope magazine. This is probably the first time the comet has ever been in the inner solar system.
Officially known by the more boring name of C/2017 S3, the comet was discovered on Dec. 23, 2017, by the PanSTARRS telescopes in Haleakala, Hawaii. The fly, the green space, rock all gave skywatchers a few surprising delights, with bright bursts of exploding from the surface of two times in short succession — the first on 30 June, and then again about two weeks later, Sky and Telescope reported. As Hulk himself would say, “Comet flash!”
Such outbursts are common with comets, although the exact cause is unknown. For many years, scientists thought that these eruptions were triggered when a comet the cold house beyond Pluto and plunged in the direction of the sun, the heating of the surface and the creation of pressure buildups that led to a geyser-like explosions. But close-up observations of the Comet 67P by the spacecraft Rosetta, instead, have suggested that landslides slipping around on the comet’s steep sloping surface, kick-up of dust and other materials that fly in the space, Space.com a Live Science sister site, which was previously reported. [Warning! Falling Rocks: Meteorites and Asteroids (Infographic)]
Regardless of the origin, the second burst C/2017 S3 as a huge cloud of gas surrounding the icy object, the expansion of almost two times the size of Jupiter, about 161,000 miles (260,000 kilometers) across, according to the Austrian amateur astronomer Michael Jäger.De greenish tint is the result of cyanide and carbon molecules is warmed by the sun and is ionized, which means that their electrons and protons separated from each other, thus creating a characteristic appearance, Brian Koberlein, an astrophysicist at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, reported on his blog.
Some news reports have quoted a Russian scientist who claims that the jolly green comet will lead to a kind of apocalyptic turmoil on Earth. Don’t worry! As the green-skinned superhero namesake, C/2017 S3 is much more favorable than it seems. But the Russian astronomer Stanislav Short of the telescope astronomical drive Tau has said that the comet poses no dangerand that such objects past our planet all the time without incident.
C/2017 S3 will be about 70 million miles (112 million kilometers) from Earth at the closest approach. The comet will then head to the sun, swinging around our central star on Aug. 16 and then flies back to the far reaches of our solar system. Now, the comet is too close to the sun is visible, but it may be visible later in August after the laps of the sun and is coming again, Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told Science.
Editor’s note: This story was updated to note that the C/2017 S3 is currently not visible, because it is too close to the sun. An earlier version of the story said the comet would be visible with binoculars tonight.
Originally published on Live Science.