Flying through the stars, growing braids of shimmering dust.
Until the 16th century, comets were deemed a celestial omen prophesizing disaster. Today, we know that a comet is simply a frozen lump of ice and dust wandering the vastness of the universe. However, as soon as a comet approaches a star, two shining tails emerge along its path. The intense heat of the star strips away its icy exterior, transforming it into a tail of gas that points away from the star. The largest particles torn away from the comet’s surface get left behind, forming a second tail along the trajectory.
This cosmic wanderer is beautiful, but it can also be merciless: the impact of a mountain-sized comet can turn any planet into an inferno and eradicate all its inhabitants. They might even see it coming, but how can they survive the impact?
The story of Oumuamua, the first visitor from another star system
Learn the difference between comets, asteroids, meteoroids, meteors and meteorites