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“Devil Comet” rocketing towards Earth, astrophysicists say not to panic

(NBC, KYMA/KECY) - Lately making headlines something people are calling a "Devil Comet," and some say it's rocketing toward Earth. Should we be freaking out about this? Well, as we all know, the devil's in the details.

It's spooky season, and some see a devil coming this way.

All that cosmic chaos over a so-called "Devil Comet," named for the horn-looking things surrounding it.

It's about the same size as the city of Dallas. It's flying at tens of thousands of miles per hour, and it's getting a lot closer to us.

Close enough to panic? Well, if you believe astrophysicists: No.

"You do not need to worry about this comet," said Paul Sutter, research professor at Stony Brook University.


The comet's actually named 12P/Pons-Brooks after two guys who spotted it way back in the 19th century!

We don't know exactly how long it's been flying around, but experts say it orbits then sun every 70 or so years.

And now, from a NASA animation, it's taking another lap through our solar system at a safe distance.

"The closest it's gonna get to Earth is hundreds of millions of miles away. It's actually going to be farther away from the Earth than the Sun is," Sutter shared.

Keeping its distance

So what's the deal with those devil horns? You see, comets are cold.

"They're basically mounds of dust and ice," according to NASA. "Leftovers from the formation of the solar system."

But when they get closer to the sun, they heat up.

"What is happening on the surface of this comet is something called a cryovolcanoes, which is like a frozen volcano operating at barely above absolute zero, where instead of a rock with liquid rock squirting out of it, like a normal volcano, you have ice, and then liquid ice, aka water squirting out of it...And then when the comet passes far enough away, it refreezes."

Paul Sutter, research professor at Stony Brook University

Sutter says that activity might be what's causing that spooky devil horn effect, and although the comet will continue to race toward earth all through spooky season, as well as early 2024, the devil's keeping its distance, remaining a cool couple hundred million miles away even at its closest point next spring.

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