Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein is named after two University of Pennsylvania astronomers, Pedro Bernardinelli and Professor Gary Bernstein, who spotted it in archival images from the Dark energy Survey.
“We have the privilege of having discovered perhaps the largest comet ever seen, or at least larger than any well-studied one, and caught it early enough for people to watch it evolve as it approaches and warms up.” Professor Bernstein said.
Comet 2014 UN271, or Bernardinelli-Bernstein, was first observed back in 2014 when astronomers spotted it out as far away as Neptune. As the comet came closer to Earth, astronomers estimated that it could have a diameter as large as 85 miles.
An international team of astronomers measured the amount of micro radiation that wasn’t being emitted by dust coming off the surface of the comet and found that for the comet to be emitting as much light as it currently is, it would have to have a diameter of 85 miles. The previous record for the largest comet was set by comet hale Bopp at around 45 miles in diameter.