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City-size comet racing toward Earth regrows ‘horns’ after massive volcanic eruption


The comet 12P/Pons-Brook (12P) photographed on Oct. 8, with “horns” in the comet’s coma clearly visible.  (Image credit: Comet Chasers/Richard Miles)

An enormous volcanic comet the size of a small city has violently exploded for the second time in four months as it hurtles toward the sun. And just like the previous eruption, the cloud of ice and gas emitted what looked like a gigantic pair of horns.

The comet, named 12P/Pons-Brooks, is a cryovolcanic — or cold volcano — comet. It has a solid nucleus, with an estimated diameter of 18.6 miles (30 kilometers), and is filled with a mix of ice, dust and gas known as cryomagma. The nucleus is surrounded by a fuzzy cloud of gas called a coma, which leaks out of the comet’s interior. 

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