An Interstellar Comet
On Sunday, a comet from beyond our solar system will make its closest strategy to the solar.
NASA, ESA, D. Jewitt (UCLA)
The comet’s icy core is just a mile or so extensive, however its surrounding cloud of fuel and mud is many instances bigger than Earth.
Pieter van Dokkum, Cheng-Han Hsieh, Shany Danieli, Gregory Laughlin (Yale)
Just Passing Through
The comet, often called 2I/Borisov, is transferring about 20 miles a second, quick sufficient to slide by way of the photo voltaic system and escape again into interstellar house.
NASA, ESA, J. DePasquale (STScI)
The comet was first spotted on Aug. 30 by Gennady Borisov, a comet hunter in Crimea who has found 9 comets since 2013.
Comet 2I/Borisov is the second interstellar object ever noticed inside our photo voltaic system, incomes it the prefix “2I.”
The alien comet resembles different comets in our photo voltaic system, however doubtless fashioned round one other star earlier than being kicked out into interstellar house.
The solar’s gravity will bend the comet’s path, however not seize it. The comet will proceed to brighten and can make its closest strategy to Earth on Dec. 28.
National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory/Gemini Observatory/N.S.F./AURA
The first interstellar object discovered passing by way of our photo voltaic system was 1I/Oumuamua, which was spotted in 2017 already transferring away from the solar.
ESO/Ok. Meech et al.
Oumuamua was regarded as a reddish, cigar-formed asteroid as a result of it lacked a halo and mirrored gentle in several methods because it turned.
Gemini Observatory/AURA/National Science Foundation
But current observations recommend Oumuamua would possibly truly be a comet with no tail, accelerating away from the solar with the slight kick of escaping fuel.
Astronomers ought to have many future possibilities to watch alien comets. Dozens of interstellar objects are thought to cross by way of the photo voltaic system yearly, unseen till now.
Sources: NASA, Gennady Borisov and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Small-Body Database Browser