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  • Elizabeth Cocking

Did you know? All things Zwicky!

We look at Comet ZTF

Comet ZTF, or to give it its full name C2022/E3 ZTF, is named for the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) where the comet was discovered on 2nd March 2022.

Comet ZTF reached its closest approach to Earth on the 2nd February 2023 when it was approximately 42.5 million kilometres from Earth, with a magnitude of 7.3. Many amateur astronomers in Australia were able to observe and photograph it.

C/2022 E3 (ZTF): Alessandro Bianconi

At first, researchers from the ZTF thought the object was an asteroid. However, upon further observation, it was noted that the object emitted steam which eventually became a tail when it approached the Sun. The researchers finally decided that the object was indeed a comet.

Comets are usually white or yellow, however the nucleus of Comet ZTF contains a relatively rare type of gas called diatomic carbon which gives the comet a green colour.

Comet ZTF is a long period comet and has an orbital period of approximately 50,000 years.

It last approached Earth during the late Paleolithic era and will approach Earth again in the next 50,000 years, making the appearance of the comet a once-in-a-lifetime event... if you were lucky enough to see it!!!


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