Glowing green Incredible Hulk comet will pass Earth tonight

This is likely the first time the comet has ever come into the inner solar system.

(Michael Jäger @ Weißenkirchen Austria/Marvel
(Michael Jäger @ Weißenkirchen Austria/Marvel)

A gigantic, green-tinged comet is currently smashing its way to our solar system. It’s likely the first time this comet will be visiting our Solar System and is making its closest pass of our planet.

Due to its glowing green shade, scientists calling this comet as ‘Incredible Hulk’ comet. Originally dubbed as PanSTARRS C/2017 S3, the comet will pass through as close as 113.4 million km (70.4 million miles) away today, according to Sky and Telescope magazine.

The comet was earlier discovered on Dec. 23, 2017, by the PanSTARRS telescopes in Haleakala, Hawaii. It’s an icy object that’s falling toward the Sun from the Oort cloud in the outer Solar System.

C/2017 S3 will be about 70.4 million miles (112 million km) from Earth at its closest approach. The comet will then head toward the sun, swinging around our central star on Aug. 16 and then zipping back out to the distant reaches of our solar system.

C/2017 S3 created a huge cloud of gas surrounding the icy object, extending nearly twice the size of Jupiter, to around 161,000 miles (260,000 kilometers) across. Its greenish hue is the result of cyanide and carbon molecules being warmed by the sun and becoming ionized, meaning their electrons and protons separate from one another, causing a characteristic glow.

Unfortunately, the comet will only really be visible to the Northern Hemisphere tonight. But once it swings past the Sun and makes its way past Earth again, the Southern Hemisphere will have a chance to view it shortly before sunrise on August 15.

Paul Chodas, the manager for the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told Live Science said, ” Right now, the comet is too close to the sun to be visible, but it may be visible later in August after it rounds the sun and comes around again.”