The “most monstrous comet ever known” is careening towards Earth.
Now, before you panic! at the disco / office / Taco Bell drive-in / wherever you spend your Mondays, you should know that it’s not expected to collide into this big blue marble we call home. University of Pennsylvania astronomers Gary Bernstein and Pedro Bernardinelli, the pair who discovered the comet and published their findings in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, learned “the comet’s trajectory has it swinging between Uranus and Saturn in 2031,” according to the Daily Beast:
Its close approach in 2031 will be a monumental time to study the comet’s chemistry and reveal what our neck of the woods was like before there were planets zipping around. “One of the best things about this comet is that we’ve got a while until it makes its closest approach to the sun, so we’ve got years to study how it brightens up as its surface gets exposed to the sun’s warmth,” [Amy Mainzer, an astronomer and comet expert at the University of Arizona] said.
But hypothetically speaking, let’s say the comet, which measures to 60 to 100 miles in length, was on a collision course with Earth, couldn’t we blow up? It worked in Armageddon. Nah, says astrophysicist / professional buzzkill Neil deGrasse Tyson.
“So, if you look in movies about this sort of thing, what they want to do is blow the sucker out of the sky,” he said while appearing on CNN earlier today. “We’re very good at blowing stuff up because we have no end of weaponry to do this. But that’s not the wisest path. All engineering calculations tell us if you blow something up, while we’re good at blowing it up, we’re not as good knowing where the pieces will end up. So, it’s safer and it’s more controlled to deflect an asteroid from harm’s way.”
If we can’t trust the scientific accuracy of a Michael Bay movie, what can we trust?
You can watch Neil deGrasse Tyson’s appearance on CNN above.