‘Devil comet’ three times the size of Mount Everest has ‘sprouted horns’ as it hurtles towards Earth
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A huge ‘devil’ comet has exploded for a third time in recent weeks as it heads towards Earth. Not now, huge devil comet, we’ve all got enough on our plates.
The comet, which is about three times the size of Mount Everest, was first discovered all the way back in 1812 but is set to reach its closest point to our planet in June next year.
Officially called 12P/Pons-Brooks, the space rock has been referred to as a ‘cold volcano’ because it has a tendency to eject ice and gas as it travels through space.
And it's this activity that has given it the nickname ‘devil’ as the explosions send matter flying out that make it look a bit like it has a set of devil horns.
In recent weeks, there has been three of these 'outbursts'.
Dr Theodore Kareta, a postdoctoral researcher at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, told ABC News: "These outbursts … [have] brought this object from being dim enough that you can only really see it with big professional telescopes to, in a couple of cases, something people can see from their backyard.
"There aren't that many comets that have outbursts, these sudden increases in brightness, that are so strong, and even fewer that have them a couple of times during one orbit. It seems like Pons-Brooks is just really active.”
Although the words ‘devil comet hurtling towards Earth’ are enough to strike fear in most of us, experts say it doesn’t pose a threat to us.
And Dr Eliot Herman, a retired professor at the University of Arizona and amateur astronomer, went as far as to say it could actually be a good opportunity to witness an unusual and interesting celestial body - as when it gets close to Earth next year, it should be visible with a pair of binoculars or even the naked eye, depending on weather conditions and cloud cover.
He told ABC: "People have historically looked up at the sky since people first became self-aware, and being amazed at the events that occur above us, is something that goes back far before civilisation.
"The events in the sky touches all, I think, in a very historic way. The universe is a big place and a lot of amazing things are occurring all around us. It's worth getting out there and just looking at it and be awestruck."
12P/Pons-Brooks passes by Earth every 71 years - meaning no one has seen it since the 1950s.