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guardian CaRD

Flying through the stars, growing braids of shimmering dust.

Illustr. Alex Rommel © 2022 Universität Innsbruck

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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?

Illustr. Alex Rommel © 2022 Universität Innsbruck

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