Scientists are reporting that a “horned” comet three times bigger than Mount Everest is hurtling toward Earth after encountering a large explosion.
The blast originated on October 5 from 12P/Pons-Brooks a cryovolcanic — or cold volcano — comet.
According to Live Science, the comet, nicknamed the “Devil” due to its apparent horns, measures a colossal 18.6 miles in diameter, or the size of a small city.
For reference, Mount Everest, the highest mountain on Earth, is about 5.5 miles high.
This marked the second time this interstellar ice cube erupted in the last four months.
The Science Times reports that the last celestial event occurred in July.
The British Astronomical Association, which is closely monitoring 12P, identified this explosion after noticing that it appeared dozens of times brighter.
The extra light was caused by reflections by the cloud of gas surrounding its center, known as the coma.
For the uninitiated, such eruptions occur when a large level of gas and ice amasses and combusts like a frozen soda can.
The eruptions cause the comet’s frosty insides to burst out of large cracks that form in the nucleus crust.
In this instance, the arctic blast caused the coma to sprout “Devil horns,” as seen in accompanying photos.
Scientists also compared the satanic shape to the Millennium Falcon spaceship from “Star Wars,” Space Weather Archive reported.
The cause of the horns is unclear, however, experts believe that it could be caused by the shape of 12P’s nucleus — à la an interstellar pasta strainer.
“The two ‘horns’ may be caused by a peculiarly-shaped cryovolcanic vent with some sort of blockage causing material to be expelled with a weird flow pattern,” said Richard Miles of the British Astronomical Association.
Despite 12P’s ominous trajectory and shape, there’s no need to brace for “Deep Impact” just yet.
The celestial hailstone — which orbits around the sun every 71 years — won’t reach its closest point to Earth until 2024.
When it passes by Earth next year, it will become visible to the naked eye.
This comet will then be catapulted back into the solar system and won’t be again by humans until the year 2095.
This is 12P’s second explosion since July 20, when the interstellar snowball blew its stack for the first time in 69 years.
During this eruption, the horn-like emissions were 7,000 times wider than the comet itself.
The coma has since shrunk back to its regular size but could attract more interest next year if it continues to explode — which will likely be the case, per Space Weather Archive.
First discovered by Jean-Louis Pons on July 12, 1812, 12P is reportedly one of 20 known comets with active ice volcanoes, Miles claims.
Perhaps the most famous is 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann, a volcanically active body that expelled approximately 1 million tons of cryomagma into space this past December, marking its largest eruption in 12 years.