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Astronomer discovers second interstellar visitor

Posted on Friday, 13 September, 2019 | Comment icon 20 comments

The visiting comet could teach us much about the solar system it came from. Image Credit: NASA/JPL
An amateur astronomer has discovered what is believed to be a comet that has come from a distant solar system.
Announced by the Minor Planet Center (MPC) at Harvard University on Wednesday, the comet is in a hyperbolic orbit and is much larger than 'Oumuamua which was discovered back in 2017.

The new visitor has also yet to reach its closest approach to the Sun (perihelion), meaning that astronomers will have the opportunity to observe it for at least 12 months.
Known officially as Comet C/2019 Q4 (Borisov), it was first spotted on August 30th.

"Unlike 'Oumuamua, whose asteroid-or-comet nature still gets debated, this one is definitely a comet," said astrophysicist Karl Battams. "If it is unequivocally interstellar, it'll be fascinating to see how its composition compares to the variety we see in comets from our own Solar System."

Source: BBC News | Comments (20)

Tags: Interstellar, Comet

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #11 Posted by Manwon Lender on 14 September, 2019, 1:41
This is very interesting and it's great it was observed early so it can better studied. But this phenomenon of objects from outside our Solar System entering it is kinda frightening, because they are so unpredictable. What concerns me more than anything else is the speed at which some of these objects are moving, it just wouldn't give us time to react, even if we could. When considering the speed st which these objects are traveling, even a small one could destroy the Earth or change it forever.  Qumuamua, for instance when it gave us a fly by it was traveling at 96,0000 miles per hour. With t... [More]
Comment icon #12 Posted by Manwon Lender on 14 September, 2019, 1:44
I don't know about an interloper, but is certainly an illegal Alien!  I think where being invaded!!
Comment icon #13 Posted by L.A.T.1961 on 14 September, 2019, 13:37
The first-ever comet from beyond our Solar System has been successfully imaged by the Gemini Observatory in multiple colours. The image of the newly discovered object, C/2019 Q4 (Borisov), was obtained on the night of 9-10 September using the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph on the Gemini North Telescope on Hawaii’s Maunakea.    
Comment icon #14 Posted by Timothy on 14 September, 2019, 21:23
Link for above image/article: https://phys.org/news/2019-09-gemini-observatory-captures-multicolor-image.html Hopefully Oumuamua has prepared us to be able to gather more data more effectively with C/2019 Q4 Borisov. It’s exciting that it’s not just a dark tumbling asteroid like Oumuamua. And exciting that it was detected on its approach. Here’s the new Wiki for C/2019 Q4: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/C/2019_Q4_(Borisov) ?2-16 km in diameter too. From: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=7498
Comment icon #15 Posted by Hankenhunter on 15 September, 2019, 0:47
Some things are better not known. If a world ending comet or asteroid impact was imminent,  I'd rather not know.  There are scenarios where ignorance is bliss. "Oooh, look at the pretty light..... oh crap."
Comment icon #16 Posted by Not A Rockstar on 15 September, 2019, 2:59
Not being an astro-guru, I wonder if these two may have come from a similar point of origin/event. They are both moving extremely fast and at similar speeds. I also wonder what star it may be orbiting, if any.  That is the one thing about Space, we will always wonder more than we will ever know, it just is amazing. Guess I will go see what What Da Math has to say about it. Anton is always great about explaining  
Comment icon #17 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 15 September, 2019, 8:24
All long period comets are unpredictable, whether from interstellar space or the Oort cloud. There is a possibility that we could be hit by such an object but it is vanishingly unlikely. The most likely objects to hit the Earth are Near Earth Objects, because they orbit near the Earth and pass close to it on a regular basis. Short period comets (i.e. those in orbits of 200 years or less) are more likely to hit us than long period comets as they make repeated passes through the inner solar system. Long period comets are the least likely objects we will be hit by because, over a reasonable time ... [More]
Comment icon #18 Posted by Manwon Lender on 15 September, 2019, 8:37
Thanks for the information, and the education we are never to old to learn.
Comment icon #19 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 15 September, 2019, 8:38
'Oumuamua originated from the direction of the Lyra, Comet Borisov originated in the direction of Cassiopeia, so different point of origin, different parent stars. Any interstellar object will be moving fast, they have to be travelling fast enough to break free of the gravity of their parent star(s). Interstellar objects are not orbiting any star. They have been ejected from their star systems. They almost certainly orbited a star in the distant past, but not any more.
Comment icon #20 Posted by bison on 15 September, 2019, 21:36
A spectrum has been obtained of the light from C/2019 Q4 (Borisov). It was taken on Saturday at the Gran Telescopio Canarias. They noted that the spectrum  was 'not unlike' that of some comets in our solar system. I find it interesting that Borisov shows a distinct deficiency of green (0.5 microns) and an enhancement of orange (0.6 microns), in comparison to those familiar comets, which are presumably the closest available match. I suspect that this new interstellar object will provide us with some surprises  before it's through with us. please find a link, below, to the GTC website report on ... [More]

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