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2 Comets Will Pass By Earth This Week — The Closest In 250 Years

Two comets with the same orbit will pass by Earth this week and give scientists the chance to study possible twin comets.

Two comets will pass by Earth this week, and one will come close enough to break a 250-year record. 

Comet P/2016 BA14 will still be a safe 2.2 million miles away when it flies by on Tuesday, but it will take the record for the third-closest comet to Earth on record.

And there's another twist that's getting scientists excited. 252P/LINEAR, the bigger comet set to fly past Earth on Monday, might be related to P/2016 BA14 — as in twins.

Because 252P/LINEAR and P/2016 BA14 have a similar orbit, it could mean the two broke off from a larger comet or that P/2016 BA14 broke off from 252P/LINEAR. 

Usually, comet parts burn up after breaking off. This pass-by means scientists could get the rare chance to study two pieces of a broken-off comet.

NASA says you'll likely only be able to view the pair with a telescope. 

This video includes clips from NASA / JPL-CaltechThe Sky Live and NASA / ESA Hubble Space Telescope and an image from Paul Stewart / CC BY 2.0

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