Amateur astronomer Michael Mattiazo last month discovered the comet Solar Wind Anisotropies Camera (SWAN), which has been gaining attention on the internet with its emerald color. During its orbit, the star was already so bright that it could be seen with the naked eye in some places on Earth, but soon it may no longer be visible on our planet.
The comet was discovered on March 25 and named C / 2020 F8. The detail that drew attention in the celestial body is the high emission of hydrogen, which guarantees a breathtaking appearance for the star. Thanks to this, experts believe that SWAN may be one of the brightest comets in our solar system in recent years.
The problem, however, is that the star is losing its luster over time, which can make it less visible at its peak. The SWAN orbit will reach its perihelion, closest to the Sun, on May 27, when the comet will be about 65 million km away from the largest star in our system. On the date, the brightness of the celestial body must reach +3.5 on the astronomical magnitude scale, in which brighter objects receive smaller numbers.
Fall in brightness
While the numbers are promising, the current stage of the comet indicates that a drop in SWAN luminosity may be in progress. On April 30, the comet’s brightness was +5.2, but the magnitude ended up changing to +5.6 recently, indicating a loss of strength in the celestial body. For a star to be visible to the naked eye, it is necessary to maintain an average of +6 on the astronomical scale.
According to Space.com, the reason for the decline in magnitude may be the composition of the C / 2020 F8. According to the website, the most prominent comets usually have a lot of dust, which better reflects sunlight and forms easily visible tails. SWAN, however, is a mostly gaseous star, which can spread when approaching the Sun.
With that in mind, while the comet can guarantee a visual spectacle if it has enough dust, there is also the possibility that we will simply lose the SWAN out of sight of planet Earth soon. In any case, Brazilians are in bad luck, since it is not possible to see the star of our country today.