'Something is wrong' with the best comet of 2021, it's acting weird

The brightest comet of 2021 and a space object that won't be seen for around 80,000 years is seemingly behaving strangely.

Published Fri, Dec 10 2021 1:32 AM CST   |   Updated Tue, Jan 4 2022 7:45 AM CST

Seeing Comet Leonard is quite literally a once-in-a-lifetime experience as it won't be returning to our solar system for tens of thousands of years.

'Something is wrong' with the best comet of 2021, it's acting weird 01 | TweakTown.com

As I previously report, Comet Leonard will be making its closest approach to Earth on December 12, 2021, where it will be 22 million miles away from Earth, which is about 90 times the distance between Earth and the Moon. As December 12 approaches Comet Leonard is moving closer to the Sun, which usually means that it will appear brighter to observers as the Sun's rays are melting the ice ball more intensely, which then creates more vapor. However, Leonard isn't doing that.

According to a report from Space.com, researchers noticed in late November that Leonard wasn't getting brighter, it was actually dimming. The publication reports that based on what astronomers know after studying past comets, there are multiple answers to why its dimming, the first being the comet has broken a part and is splitting up as it journeying closer to the Sun. Ultimately, researchers aren't sure why Leonard is dimming, but hypotheses are flying!

Read more: Here's how to see 2021's best comet, a once-in-a-lifetime sighting

"It's not great news. The comet should be brighter and brighter. If it's not getting brighter then something's wrong, but we don't know exactly what at this stage." said Quanzhi Ye, an astronomer at the University of Maryland who specializes in comets who spoke to Space.com

"Why it's fading, there are all kinds of hypotheses. The simplest and the most obvious one is something unhealthy is happening to the comet. The images I've seen from this morning [Dec. 7], the comet still seems to be OK - morphologically it looks fine. But the intrinsically fading trend is still continuing. Time will tell, we don't know at this point."" said Ye.

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Jak joined the TweakTown team in 2017 and has since reviewed 100s of new tech products and kept us informed daily on the latest science and space news. Jak's love for science, space, and technology, and, more specifically, PC gaming, began at 10 years old. It was the day his dad showed him how to play Age of Empires on an old Compaq PC. Ever since that day, Jak fell in love with games and the progression of the technology industry in all its forms. Instead of typical FPS, Jak holds a very special spot in his heart for RTS games.

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