Hubble gets snapshot of interstellar comet

Rodiano Bonacci
Ottobre 19, 2019

According to the space agency, its main space telescope was able to observe 2I/Borisov on October 12 when it was 260 million miles away from Earth.

Pictures captured by the Hubble Space Telescope show the second known interstellar object, 2I/Borisov, in all its cometary glory.

The next few weeks afford a golden opportunity to study one of the most alien objects ever known to come this close.

In 2017, the first identified interstellar visitor, an object officially named 'Oumuamua, swung within 24 million miles of the Sun before racing out of the Solar system. One study indicates there are thousands of such comets in our solar system at any given time, although most are too faint to be detected with current telescopes.

The two comets, 2I/Borisov and 'Oumuamua, ' are reportedly the first two objects which have traveled from outside of our solar system into ours, which have been noticed.

Comets are icy bodies thought to be fragments left behind when planets form in the outer parts of planetary systems.

Then again, it's "entirely exceptional" that the comet's properties give off an impression of being like those of our own close planetary system's structure squares, said Amaya Moro-Martin of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.

This comet from outside our solar system is zooming by us at a blistering 110,000 miles per hour (177,000 kph). NASA noted that the photos taken by Hubble of the interstellar visitor are the sharpest ones to date. By mid-2020, the comet will speed past Jupiter, about 500 million miles away, and continue on its path back into interstellar space.

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. Astronomers predict that by this time, the interstellar comet will be exiting the Solar System.

"It's a riddle why these two are so extraordinary", David Jewitt of the University of California, Los Angeles, who drove the Hubble perception group, said in an announcement. Future Hubble observations of 2I/Borisov are planned through January 2020, with more being proposed.

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