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The return of poisonous comet

In end of May, the poisonous comet C/2019 Y4 Atlas will be visible to naked eye from Earth.

Source: Sputnik

 As Lyudmila Koshman, astronomer at the Moscow Planetarium, explained, the C/2019Y4 Atlas comet, whose core contains poisonous chemical compound called cyanogen, visited our solar system last time during the 4th millennium BC, “back when the great pyramids were being built in Egypt”.

The chemical formula of cyanogen is C_{2}N_{2} or (CN)_{2}.


Cyanogen boils at -21.2ºC (-6ºF) and freezes at -27.9ºC(–18.22ºF). In addition to poisonous, it’s inflammable.

“Due to the solar wind, the comet starts sprouting two tails – one gaseous, the other comprised of dust – which give it an especially spectacular look”.

According to Koshman, the comet will pass the Earth at a distance of about 117 million kilometers on 27 May, and on 31 May, it will approach the Sun at a distance of about 38 million kilometers, which is less than the distance between the Sun and Mercury – the closest planet to the heart of our solar system.

The astronomer noted that the comet’s greenish hue is a product of cyanogen contained within its core becoming fluorescent when bombarded by UV radiation, and that by the end of April, the comet will become as bright as the stars of Ursa Major so it will be visible to the naked eye.

C/2019 Y4 Atlas’s trajectory at the end of May in Solar System. Source: Sky & Telescope.
poisonous comet
A photo of this comet taken in 1st February. Source: New Scientist.


About Pedro Ney Stroski

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