Massive comet regrows glowing ‘horns’ on its way to its closest approach to Earth

A team of astronomers detected a large outburst from a massive volcanic comet called 12P/Pons-Brooks, more commonly called simply 12P.

Massive comet regrows glowing 'horns' on its way to its closest approach to Earth 59959


The outburst resulted in the comet becoming dozens of times brighter over the course of a few days, and according to reports, the brightness increase can be attributed to light reflecting off the expanded coma. So, what caused this outburst or explosion? Solar radiation, or heat from the Sun, heats up the exterior of comets such as 12P, which are cryovolcanic comets or cold volcano comets.

The interior of the comet then slowly heats up as well, creating an immense amount of pressure that then bursts out a weak point in the comet’s outer shell, shooting out the frozen innards into the surrounding space. Depending on the size of the explosion and the damage it caused, comets such as 12P can make strange shapes with their increasing in brightness.

For example, 12P has grown some “horns” following its explosion, with other publications reporting that it kind of now looks like the iconic spaceship from Star Wars, the Millennium Falcon. This irregular shape of the comet’s brightness can be attributed to the irregular shape of the comet itself, and this outgassing effect enables astronomers to get a clearer definition of the actual shape of the comet.

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