Solar System’s second interstellar visitor comet Borisov unveiled

Katie Ramirez
November 28, 2019

For modern astronomers, however, it provides a rare peek into the solar system beyond planets - and for them, the analysis of comets can tell about the properties of Kuiper Belt (a major zone consisting of comets outside Neptune's orbit) and Oort Cloud (a spherical cloud of icy objects around the solar system).

Interstellar comet 2l/Borisov is only the second known object to visit our solar system from the great wide universe beyond.

Astronomers have captured the best and closest image to date of interstellar comet 2I/Borisov, a visitor that originated from outside of our solar system and is now passing through.

Laughlin, another astronomer, finds an exciting detail about a comet. Still, astronomers are capturing incredible new views of this visitor, using the very best telescopes available. The image comes from the W.M. Keck Observatory's Low-Resolution Imaging Spectrometer in Hawaii.

2I/Borisov won't get very close to Earth, and will only be around 190 million miles from our planet at its closest approach.

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The image taken by astronomers show the comet's tail, which is nearly 100,000 miles long - roughly 14 times the size of Earth.

What the image does show is just how big the comet's coma (its atmosphere) and tail are.

"We can study the gas and material surrounding 2I/Borisov to characterize its chemical make-up, and compare it to other comets from our Solar System". After a week of observations a trajectory of the comet was computed: it was confirmed that the object comes from outside of our Solar System. The team of astronomers is composed of Pieter Van Dokkum, Shany Danieli, Gregory Laughlin, and Chen-Han Hsieh.

According to Yale astronomy professor van Dokkum, 21/Borisov's tail, highlighted in the new image, is almost 100,000 miles long-14 times the size of our home planet.

"It's humbling to realize how small Earth is next to this visitor from another solar system", van Dokkum told Yale News. The scientist thinks that the comet originated in another star system but was kicked out after a near-miss with a planet. As it began reacting to the Sun's warming effect, the comet has taken on a "ghostly" appearance, the researchers said.

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