New Comet Found; May Be Visible From Earth in 2013
Icy body may even be bright enough to be seen in the day, expert says.
Astronomers stumbled upon the icy interloper on June 5 while searching for potentially hazardous asteroids.
Equipped with the world's largest digital camera—1,400 megapixels—the University of Hawaii's Pan-STARRS team snagged a faint image of the odd object while it was more than 700 million miles (1.1 billion kilometers) away, between the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn. (Explore an interactive solar system.)
"Almost everything we find is an asteroid, but this object was suspicious," said Richard Wainscoat, co-discoverer of the comet and an astronomer at the University of Hawaii.
"Unlike asteroids, which appear point-like in images, the telltale sign that gave it away was its fuzzy appearance."
(Related: "Weird Asteroid Really a Crusty Old Comet?")
By March 2013 the comet, named C/2011 L4