A green comet , known as C/2022 E3 (ZTF) (ZTF) Comet ZTF for short, is close to making its closest approach towards Earth in the very first instance since the beginning of the Ice Age.
Comet ZTF will come within 26 million miles (42 million kilometers) of Earth on Wednesday, which is about 1/3 of the distance that lies between Earth with the Sun.
The comet that is green was last seen in inside the Solar System about 50,000 years ago it is expected to be at its brightest at this time.
As with other comets, ZTF is a striking green hue. However, skygazers might not be able to discern this by naked eye.
The reason for the comet’s green glow is in a diatomic carbon (C2). Timothy Schmidt, a professor of Chemistry in the University of New South Wales who studies the phenomenon tweeted on Sunday.
We’ve known about C2’s green-glowing qualities since the year 1930, it wasn’t until 2021 that we found the final secrets. Here’s how.
A comet is in essence the galactic equivalent of a snowball. It’s composed of dust and ice. When it is close to the Sun it heats up and transforms the ice into gas , creating an atmosphere around the comet referred to as the coma.
In the event that the cloud is bombarded with solar radiation Sun carbon-based molecules within the cloud are ripped apart, forming C2 an easy but highly unstable molecule that is easily excite.
This means that the molecule absorbs part of the light that the sun emits in the shape of a photon and put it into an exuberant state.
However, the Universe is a fan of order, and the molecule does everything it can to restore its normal state. To achieve this it releases the photon, releasing some energy from the light. This is known as fluorescence.
When released from the C2 This photon occurs to let out green light.
Scientists have been aware of the process that causes the green glow for nearly an entire century. However, it wasn’t until 2021 that a team headed by Schmidt who was the lead, discovered why the C2 was not able to remain green after it had reached the end of the comet’s tail.
It was a science breakthrough.
The reason it’s difficult to understand these phenomena on Earth is due to the fact that C2 is extremely unstable. The researchers started with molecules comprised from two carbon atoms as well as chloride (C2Cl4) that they bombarded with lasers to remove the chloride from the molecular.
Then they bombarded C2 remaining C2 with intense light.
The results they discovered awed them. The intense light bounced off the C2 in an even excited state and tore the molecule.
It was the very first time that anyone had ever witnessed such a chemical reaction Schmidt declared in a release announcing the results that were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2021.
Due to this, they observed that C2 is extremely short in time to live under intense sunlight that is the reason why the molecule ceases to glow when it is at the tail.