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Space & Astronomy

Visiting interstellar comet is caught on camera

By T.K. Randall
October 15, 2019 · Comment icon 5 comments

A two-color composite image of the visiting comet. Image Credit: Gemini Observatory / NSF / AURA
Astronomers have revealed that comet 2I/Borisov is remarkably similar to comets from our own solar system.
First observed on August 30th, the comet, which is the second confirmed interstellar visitor to our solar system, was announced last month by the Minor Planet Center (MPC) at Harvard University.

The first, an object known as 'Oumuamua, was discovered back in 2017.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about 2I/Borisov however is just how unremarkable it actually is.

"This is the first comet known to science that arrived from outside the solar system, and it is completely similar to those we see inside the solar system," said astronomer Michal Drahus.

Its discovery suggests that there are several nearby solar systems very much like our own and that comets like those we find in our local neighborhood are not uncommon elsewhere in the universe.
Observations using the William Herschel Telescope on La Palma, Spain and the Gemini North telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii have shown that 2I/Borisov has a distinctive and familiar coma (a billowing cloud of gas and dust) as well as a short, fat tail.

Its nucleus is thought to be 2km wide .

"This appears to be a completely unremarkable comet on a very remarkable orbit," said astronomer Colin Snodgrass from Edinburgh University.

"It's very interesting that this interstellar comet looks like our own ones."

"It implies that some of the formation processes we are trying to figure out with detailed observation of comets and asteroids, or space missions like Rosetta, are common between stars."

Source: Guardian | Comments (5)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by The___Piper 5 years ago
Did the astronomer that was quoted mistakingly claim this was the first interstellar visitor? Or did I misunderstand? Lol
Comment icon #2 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 5 years ago
What he said was, ʻOumuamua may have been the first interstellar object discovered  bit its status as a comet is still under debate. Hence Michal Drahus is correct, Borisov is the first known interstellar comet.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 5 years ago
Hubble Observes 1st Confirmed Interstellar Comet  
Comment icon #4 Posted by ant0n 5 years ago
The second mysterious interstellar object found zipping through the solar system, 2I/Borisov, looks like a run-of-the-mill comet, just what astronomers expected. That stands in stark contrast to the first known interstellar object, ‘Oumuamua. The second space rock seen visiting our solar system from another star is proving just how bizarre the first known interstellar object, ‘Oumuamua, really was.  
Comment icon #5 Posted by ant0n 5 years ago
Passing water? Astronomers say they have detected a telltale trace of water on comet 2I/Borisov, the first known interstellar comet. If confirmed, it will be the first time water from another planetary system has been detected inside our solar system.

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