On August 7, a strange green comet will zoom past us on a close visit to our planet. Officially known as PANSTARRS (C/2017 S3), this celestial body has been dubbed the “Incredible Hulk” comet due to its color and massive size.
Recently spotted on July 2 — when the “Incredible Hulk” comet flexed its celestial muscles and “exploded” in brightness, becoming 16 times more luminous than ever before — PANSTARRS (C/2017 S3) has stumped astronomers with its staggering girth.
As the Inquisitr previously reported, the comet is surrounded by a green atmosphere that swelled to twice the size of Jupiter during July’s event.
The unusual green object is currently speeding toward perihelion, its closest point to the sun, which it is expected to reach on August 16. In order to get near the sun, PANSTARRS (C/2017 S3) must first pass by our planet, notes Sputnik News.
This brings us to tomorrow’s encounter, which marks the closest approach to Earth of this bizarre green comet on its orbit around the sun.
The news comes from the Russian media outlet Izvestia, which cites comet and meteorite researcher Yevgeniy Dmitriyev. According to the astronomer, tomorrow’s visit might not go so well for our planet, as the “Incredible Hulk” comet could cause a bit of chaos in our atmosphere and even impact life on Earth.
Dmitriyev bases his claims on one simple fact: the enormity of the comet’s atmosphere, a massive cloud of gas and dust measuring almost 162,000 miles (260,000 kilometers) in length.
“The size of the gas-dust cloud of the celestial body is at least twice the size of the largest planet in the solar system, Jupiter,” Dmitriyev said in a statement for Izvestia.
This could cause some problems during tomorrow’s close approach, when PANSTARRS (C/2017 S3) will be coming within 70 million miles (113.4 million kilometers) from our planet. As Dmitriyev points out, a space cloud of this magnitude might trigger some electromagnetic disturbances in Earth’s atmosphere, potentially affecting all living things.
“When the Earth passes through the gas-dust environment of a bright comet, a giant lightning may occur which generates a powerful cometary electromagnetic pulse that can be ruinous for civilization,” said the Russian astronomer.
Yet not everyone agrees with Dmitriyev on the possible doom that PANSTARRS (C/2017 S3) might unleash upon us. For instance, Russian astronomer Stanislav Short is adamant that the comet’s passing will be completely benign and pose no threat to our planet.
Although Short concedes that tomorrow’s visit could be a “threatening approach” given the “giant electrified gas cloud” surrounding the comet, the astronomer clarifies that PANSTARRS (C/2017 S3) broke up last month, thereby becoming smaller and not at all dangerous.
What’s more, Short says that many similar objects have safely passed by Earth before, without becoming a threat to life on the planet.
During its short visit to our planet, the “Incredible Hulk” comet should be clearly visible from Earth, particularly in the northern hemisphere, so be on the lookout for a fantastic celestial display. The best days to catch a glimpse of PANSTARRS (C/2017 S3) as it races toward the sun are August 7 and 8.