Hubble Captures Sharpest Image Yet of Interstellar Comet 2I/Borisov | Astronomy

Rodiano Bonacci
Ottobre 17, 2019

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured this view of the interstellar object Comet 2I/Borisov on October 12, 2019.

2I/Borisov is only the second such interstellar object known to have passed through our Solar System.

On Tuesday, Paul Karas, an adjunct professor in the astronomy department at the University of California, Berkeley, uploaded his video of 2I/Borisov to YouTube.

2I/Borisov was initially detected on August 30 by Gennady Borisov at the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory, when it was 300 million miles from the sun.

That means they'll have extra time to study the object while it's still passing through, giving plenty of opportunity to obtain new images and videos like Karas'.

The shape of the nucleus can't be made out in the Hubble images, but it has the characteristic fuzzy look and chemical composition associated with comets in our own solar system.

This article was originally published by Futurism. The comet is travelling toward the Sun and will make its closest approach to the Sun on 7 December, when it will be twice as far from the Sun as Earth. "It's traveling so fast it nearly doesn't care that the Sun is there", said Jewitt.

Astronomers with the International Astronomical Union and NASA JPL determined that, based on its trajectory and speed, the comet had to originate from outside the Solar System. By the middle of 2020, it will pass Jupiter on its way back into interstellar space, where it will drift for billions of years, Jewitt said.

"Because another star system could be quite different from our own, the comet could have experienced significant changes during its long interstellar journey", said Dr. Amaya Moro-Martin, a researcher at the Space Telescope Science Institute.

The comet was discovered by Crimean amateur astronomer Gennady Borisov, and Hubble photographed the comet at a distance of 418 million kilometres from Earth.

Up until the the discovery of 2I/Borisov, the only comets which astronomers knew about have come from the Kuiper belt-a vast disc of small bodies that circle the sun from roughly the orbit of Neptune and beyond-and the hypothetical Oort Cloud which astronomers think marks the limits of the sun's gravitational influence.

As the second interstellar object found to enter our Solar System, 2I/Borisov provides various invaluable insights. There may be thousands of such interstellar objects here at any given time; most, however, are too faint to be detected with present-day telescopes.

Hubble observations of 2I/Borisov are planned through next January, with more being proposed. "They sometimes brighten suddenly or even begin to fragment as they are exposed to the intense heat of the sun for the first time".

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of worldwide cooperation between ESA and NASA. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. Hubble - along with other telescopes - will be on the lookout into next year.

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