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Massive eruption of an icy volcanic comet detected in the solar system

Artist’s impression of a comet flying through space, dragged by twin streams of gas and dust. (Image credit: Shutterstock)

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A strange volcanic comet has violently erupted, spewing more than a million tons of gas, ice and the “potential building blocks of life” into the solar system.

The volatile comet, known as 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann (29P), is about 60 kilometers wide and takes about 14.9 years to orbit the Sun. 29P is considered the most volcanically active comet in the solar system. It’s one of about 100 comets, called “centaurs”, that have been pushed out of the Kuiper Belt – a ring of icy comets that lurk beyond Neptune — in a closer orbit around the sun between those of Jupiter and Neptune, according to Nasa (opens in a new tab).

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