NASA has detected a record-breaking comet that is heading towards Earth - but don't panic, we're safe. 

Researchers at NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have known about the massive comet since 2010 when it was roughly 3 billion miles from the Sun. 

Since then, NASA researchers have been learning more about it to come up with an estimate on how big it could possibly be.

It was already thought that the comet was fairly large since it's been active at such a long distance from the Sun but new data, reported in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, from the Hubble Space Telescope has given us a more complete picture. 

Celestial Events to look forward to in 2022

NASA detects record breaking comet heading toward earth 

The Hubble Space Telescope took five photos earlier this year but figuring out the comet's size isn't as simple as that.

The researchers used the images to differentiate between the comet's solid nucleus in the middle from the large dusty coma around.

Considering how far away the images are, it is not clear enough to tell the difference.

Scientists have instead looked at the light that marks the nucleus at the heart of the comet and made a computer model of the nebulous envelope or coma that would surround it.

The researchers then adjusted it in line with the images and subtracted the coma's glow leaving only the solid nucleus.

Combining the new data with research from the radio observations taken from the ALMA telescope in Chile, we get a fuller picture of what the comet is like.

Comparing the data, the scientists found that the sizes were the same but the surface of the comet is darker than originally thought. 

One researcher described the object as “big and it’s blacker than coal”.

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How big is the comet heading towards Earth?

The comet is known as C/2014 UN271 (Bernardinelli-Bernstein) and it is heading in our direction at 22,000 miles per hour from the edge of the solar system.

It has an icy nucleus bigger than we've ever seen before at around 80 miles across, and it's 50 times bigger than the centre of most known comets.

Scientists estimate that it has a mass of about 500 trillion tons which is a hundred thousand times bigger than a typical comet found closer to the Sun.

Don't forget though, we're safe since the comet will not get closer than a billion miles from the Sun.

In fact, it'll be further away from Earth than Saturn - not to mention, it will not even come that close until 2031.

Why should we learn more about the comet heading towards Earth?

We know that the comet is billions of years old, coming from the early days of the solar system. 

It came from the edge of our planetary neighbourhood known as the Oort Cloud which has been falling backwards to the Sun for at least a million years.

Scientists think that Oort Cloud comets came from much closer to our star but were thrown out into the edges of the solar system when the bigger outer planets were finding their orbits in the early days of the solar system.

By continuing to study the comedy, we could potentially better understand the Oort Cloud including its size and how objects like the distant cloud were formed.

The cloud is roughly 5000 times away further from our Sun than us and therefore it's been difficult to see directly, which is hopefully where this comet can give us some answers.