Never-before-seen colossal comet on a trek toward the sun

The Bernardinelli-Bernstein comet takes 5.5 million years to complete its orbit. (Image credit: NASA JPL)

A new visitor is swinging by the solar system: a never-before-observed comet that hails from the Oort Cloud. 

This alien object was just designated as a comet Wednesday (June 23), only a week after astronomers first observed it as a tiny, moving dot in archival images from the Dark Energy Camera at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. The comet is now known as Comet C/2014 UN271, or Bernardinelli-Bernstein after its discoverers, University of Pennsylvania graduate student Pedro Bernardinelli and astronomer Gary Bernstein. 

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