An artist's impression of a comet flying through space trailed by twin streams of gas and dust.

An artist's impression of a comet flying through space trailed by twin streams of gas and dust. (Image credit: Shutterstock)
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More than 1 million tons of gas, ice and the potential building blocks of life have been released by a volcanic comet.

The comet takes around 14.9 years to travel around the sun. 29P is thought to be the most volcanicly active comet in the solar system. It is one of around 100 comets, known as "centaurs," that have been pushed from the Kuiper Belt, a ring of icy comets that linger beyond Neptune.

According to, an astronomer named Patrick Wiggins noticed that 29P had dramatically increased in brightness. The second largest eruption on 29P in the last 12 years was the cause of the spike in luminosity. There was an eruption in September of 2021.

There's a comet that sprays dust across the universe.

A follow-up image of 29P's eruption was taken by a PhD candidate from the U.K. It's hard to say why this one is so large.

On Nov. 27 and Nov. 29 there was an explosion.

29P spits out extremely cold gases and ice from its core. Cold volcanism is a type of volcanic activity.

There are a number of comets and moons in the solar system that have a surface crust around a solid ice core. Radiation from the sun can cause the comets' icy interiors to change from solid to gas. The outer shell is cracked when radiation from the sun weakens the crust.

An infrared image of the coma and tail of comet 29P after an eruption on Dec. 8 2003.

An infrared image of the coma and tail of comet 29P captured by the Spitzer Space Telescope after an eruption on Dec. 8 2003. (Image credit: NASA/Spitzer Space Telescope )
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Some of the raw materials from which life originated on Earth may have been supplied by the comets' cryomagma.

The comet's most recent eruption stretched up to 34,800 miles away from the comet and was travelling at speeds of up to 800 mph. More than one million tons of ejecta may have been contained in the plume.

According to, the eruption originated from a single point or region on the comet's surface, as shown in the photographs.

Previous research shows that 29P's eruptions are related to its rotation. The comet's slower rotation is believed to cause solar radiation to be absorbed more evenly on the comet. The comet's 57-day rotation period tends to coincide with the eruptions from the comet.

Volcanic eruptions on the moon have been more recent than we thought.

29P's most powerful eruptions follow a cycle based on its position around the sun, according to researchers. Two massive explosions have occurred in the last two years, and a number of large eruptions have been detected over the last two years. There is a chance that there will be at least one more eruption by the end of the year.

The roughly circular orbit of 29P (white) around the sun.

The roughly circular orbit of 29P (in white) around the sun. (Image credit: NASA/JPL Small-Body Database Browser)
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Unlike most other comets, 29P does not get closer to the sun than its average distance, so it's not clear how this longer eruption cycle is happening.

Since its discovery in 1927, 29P has been ignored by the astronomy community, but as new evidence emerges, it is starting to be taken more seriously. There is something new to be discovered.

The telescope is going to look at 29P early next year.