April 1, 2023

What Is the Green Comet? Science Explains Its Glow As It Nears Earth

  • A green comet is whizzing past the earth for the first time since the ice age. 
  • The comet’s head shines green, while its tail shines white. 
  • Scientists found out why it glows this way in 2021, and it comes down to physics. Here’s how it works. 


Comet ZTF will come within 26 million miles (42 million kilometers) of our planet on Wednesday, about a third of the distance between the earth and the sun. 

The green comet, which last passed through the inner solar system about 50,000 years ago, will be at its brightest during this time.

Comet ZTF is shown against the night sky.

Comet ZTF (C/2022 E3) taken at NAOJ Mitaka Campus on January 31, 2023.

National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

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