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China’s Purple Mountain Observatory has discovered a new comet

China's Purple Mountain Observatory has discovered a new comet

A large comet with an orbital period of up to 30,000 years is heading toward the Sun and is expected to reach perihelion in September 2024.

The object was first seen on January 9, 2023 by the Purple Mountain Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, but on March 1, 2023, the Minor Planet Center of the National Astronomical Union (MPC) recently confirmed that it was a comet and named it C/2023 A3 (Tsuchinshan-ATLAS).

Currently, C/2023 A3 is located 7.3 AU (1,090 billion km) from the Sun, farther than the distance from Jupiter. However, it is moving towards the Sun and its brightness will increase rapidly. According to Purple Mountain Observatory, The celestial body will reach perihelion on September 28, 2024. At that time, it was about 0.39 AU (58 million km) from the Sun and visible to the naked eye.

Simulate the current position and orbit of comet C/2023 A3.
Simulate the current position and orbit of comet C/2023 A3.

Simulation of the current position and orbit of comet C/2023 A3. (Photo: Astro Vanbuitenen)

Even though there is still a year and a half to go “visit” of C/2023 A3, many astronomers believe it could provide a stunning light show. This prediction is based on the following premises:

  • The first one, Ϲ/2023 A3 has a very long cycle. It originates from remote regions of the solar system and last reached perihelion about 30,000 years ago. This means that comets must contain significant reserves of material.
  • Monday, all available data suggests that C/2023 A3 is a large object. Although the exact diameter of the core is unknown, the apparent magnitude of C/2023 A3 suggests that it is quite large.
  • Tuesday, many long-period comets tend to collapse during their transit through perihelion. However, the C/2023 A3 will fly past the Sun at a relatively safe distance and has a high chance of survival as it approaches.

Comet NEOWISE

Comet NEOWISE. (Photo: Juan Carlos Casado).

According to MPC, the maximum brightness of C/2023 A3 in the sky could reach 0 stellar brightness, which means it would be 6 times brighter than that observed in the summer of 2020 and 100 times brighter than the recent comet ZTF. The best place to observe C/2023 A3 is in the Northern Hemisphere.

Of course, we are only talking about rough estimates. In the history of astronomy, there have been many cases where the brightness of a comet exceeded expectations or caused disappointment during its visit, but regardless, Ϲ/2023 A3 will be certainly noticed and will appear on many planets in the near future.

Article source: VnExpress

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A large comet with an orbital period of up to 30,000 years is heading toward the Sun and is expected to reach perihelion in September 2024. Objects seen…

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