Comet C/2022 E3 (ZFT) was visible to the naked eye when it passed closest to Earth in January and February 2023 after 50,000 years.
Comet C/2022 E3 (ZFT) in this image taken by John Chumack. (Photo: John Chumack). Photographer John Chumack of GalacticImages.com on January 7 photographed comet C/2022 E3 (ZFT) in the night sky in Yellow Springs, Ohio. According to Chumack, the comet is so bright that the green head and tail trail are clearly visible. Astronomy lovers can observe C/2022 E3 (ZFT) until February this year.
Without a telescope, comet 2022 E3 (ZTF) looks bluer and dimmer in the sky than it actually is. According to Space, it has two tails, an extremely long tail with a characteristic green color as shown in recent photos. The comet's head is also blue because it contains dicarbon, a chemical consisting of two carbon atoms bonded together. This chemical process mainly occurs only at the tip of the comet.
According to NPR, a comet is a collection of solidified gas, rock and dust. However, as they get closer to the Sun and warm up, they transform into cosmic objects that spew gas and dust, resulting in their distinctive appearance of a glowing core and a long, flame-like tail trail.
Comets typically produce two types of tails, one mainly composed of gas and the other mostly formed from dust. The dust tail is more visible than the gas tail because dust reflects sunlight well. The gas tail is burned by the Sun's ultraviolet radiation, causing it to glow similar to phosphorescence.
C/2022 E3 (ZTF) was first detected in 2022 by the Schmidt telescope at the Zwicky Transient Facility on Mount Palomar. At that time, it was located in the constellation Aquila, 5 times farther from the Sun than Earth. Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) will be located in the constellation Camelopardalis on the evening of February 1.
According to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) has a period of about 50,000 years. That means before coming about 160 million km from the Sun on January 12 and 42 million km from Earth on February 2, the last time it flew this close was the Paleolithic period.