DES images of the object from 2014 to 2018 did not show that general coma. However, within a day of the two astronomers announcing their discovery through the Minor Planet Center, astronomers with the Los Compress Laboratory took new pictures of the object showing that it had been in a coma for the past three years: the comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein was official. A comet.
Its current orbit inside the Solar System began at a distance of more than 40,000 astronomical units from the Sun, in other words 40,000 times more than the Sun than the Earth, after all, an astronomical unit is the average distance between the Earth and the Sun. This is about 6 trillion kilometers and is about one-seventh the distance to the nearest star, and Pluto – a trans-Neptuneian object – averages 39 astronomical units from the Sun.
That is, the Bernardinelli-Bernstein comet belongs to the Ort cloud, the imaginary giant cloud of billions of objects ejected from the solar system in early solar system history. The comet may be the largest orbital cloud object ever discovered, and it is the first comet to orbit the solar system ever discovered.
The comet is now very close to the Sun. It was first reported by DES in 2014 as having 29 astronomical units – 4 billion kilometers or the distance between Neptune and the Sun – and in June 2021 20 astronomical units from the Sun – 3 billion kilometers or between Uranus and the Sun.
The orbit of the comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein is perpendicular to the plane of the solar system and the comet will reach the perihelion – the closest point to the Sun from its orbit – in 2031. Then it will be 11 more astronomical units from the sun. 1.6 billion kilometers or slightly more than Saturn’s distance from the Sun.
Despite the considerable size of the comet, it is only visible with a large amateur telescope, even though it is bright.
“We’re privileged to have discovered the largest comet ever seen – or the largest comet of any well – educated comet – and we discovered it in advance so people could see it approaching.” “He has not visited the solar system in 3 million years,” said Gary Bernstein.
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