back to article Hubble spies most distant comet zipping through Solar System

The Hubble Space Telescope has snapped a picture of the farthest-away inbound comet, at a whopping 1.5 billion miles from Earth. It's a strange find. The comet – codenamed C/2017 K2 PANSTARRS, or K2 for short – has already become active. It is developing a vast 80,000-mile-wide halo of dust as its surface sublimes, despite …

  1. Captain DaFt

    Welcome to the inner ring,K2!

    But, uhm, try to miss that blue/green ball, third from the sun, OK?

  2. redpawn Silver badge

    Any magnitude projections?

    In addition to wanting it to miss us, I miss seeing good comets. How bright is it expected to become as seen from earth?

    I did see the impact fireball from one of the larger chunks of Shumaker-Levy 9 as the material cleared the limb of Jupiter and then fell back behind the limb, using a 8" SCT in Hawaii. The fresh dust made the planet look like it was a dented Christmass ornament half an hour or so later looking as dark as the background sky. Was lucky to be in Ewa Beach, one of the few places here without clouds that night.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Any magnitude projections?

      You have to squint hard to see it now, is good for things that can be seen with only slightly outrageously expensive toys and will include it when (if) it does get there.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Any magnitude projections?

        Just reading the free PDF and making up shit its a hyperbolic orbit so this is the first time its got so close to the sun - its currently 60-70k and boiling off CO,O2 and N so there is a good chance it may even blow itself apart as it gets hotter. If not it will almost certainly be visible to the naked eye for people above cloud level.

  3. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    ...and presumably will form a tail.

    Though it will of course be cloudy in the UK that night.

    1. stucs201

      Re: ...cloudy in the UK that night

      Comets don't always mean it's cloudy in the UK. Sometimes they're only visible from the southern hemisphere, we sometimes get clear nights for those ones.

      1. jonfr

        Re: ...cloudy in the UK that night

        Europe is in the magnetic south pole as that is why you get the north arrow in a compass pointing north. Everything I knew about the polar thing until I got corrected on this detail. Australia is in the magnetic north pole. All the maps are wrong (again).

        You can find the details here.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is not a comet. This is Nibiru.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      That didn't take long.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      As this object is less than 12 miles across, Nibiru has become a lot smaller than previously estimated..

      1. Captain DaFt

        As this object is less than 12 miles across, Nibiru has become a lot smaller than previously estimated..

        It wanted to be slim and fit, plus it had scheduling problems getting the special effects set up for its big appearance.

        Explains why it's so late. ☺

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "As this object is less than 12 miles across, Nibiru has become a lot smaller than previously estimated.."

        It's probably been ill...

        1. Chris G Silver badge


          Yeah once again there is conclusive proof that we are in the End Times, nephilim are going to walk the Earth and I am going to win the lottery!

          Or it's a lump of space stuff that is not going to come that close and won't be visible from any place I am a t due to cloud.

  5. Paul Herber Silver badge
    1. Kane Silver badge
  6. Mystic Megabyte


    The question is what dislodged it from the Oort cloud? If were a small wandering black hole then we can expect more comets following at some distance behind it. So sod living in a dome on Mars, I'll take my chances on a planet with an atmosphere.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Duck!

      I dont think an atmosphere will do much more than make some really neat sounds as its sucked in.

      So do you want to go out with a bang or a squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek?

    2. breakfast

      Re: Duck!

      I aint going Oort like that!

  7. David Pearce

    Comets are hard to see because of the light pollution. I haven't seen the Milky Way for years

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's a trap!

    But seriously.

    Good science, very amazeballs.

  9. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

    Interesting stuff

    It is near impossible to predict how bright this will become when in closes in on the centre solar system, but I will have my scopes and camera at the ready. It would be great to have a naked-eye comet swinging around these parts once more.

  10. RockBurner

    First thought was that the Sleeper Service was starting it's run...

  11. Andyf

    That's no comet......

    That's not a halo, that's a slow down burn to allow it to enter a near Earth orbit...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No tail?

    How can we be sure there's no tail? Given the distance of the object from Earth, the Hubble, and the Sun, wouldn't any tail be hidden behind it? (granted it's "only" about a 10X difference in distance between us and the comet versus us and the sun).

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