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Home / Science / Here is the picture we were waiting for. Hubble's photo of the interstellar comet 2I / Borisov

Here is the picture we were waiting for. Hubble's photo of the interstellar comet 2I / Borisov



Leave it to the good old Hubble Space Telescope. The Hustler Telescope has given us a photo of the new interstellar comet 2I / Borisov. Take that, imagine new telescopes.

2I / Borisov has migrated from the cold of interstellar space into our solar system, but no one knows where it came from or how long it was on the way. Boris is just the second object that we have observed in our solar system, which has entered our solar system from somewhere in the galaxy, and the Hubble camera has taken photos of it, traveling at a speed of about 177,000 km / h (110,000 mph) .) Progress. So far, the Hubble images are the sharpest yet.

  NASA, ESA and D. Jewitt [University of California, Los Angeles]
Annotated image of comet 2I / Borisov. Credit:

Our first interstellar visitor was Oumuamua, who flew through our solar system in 2017. But this object did not reveal its secrets so easily. It came and went and generated a lot of clicks and guesses and panic headlines in a few quarters. But it had no coma and no tail, which means it had no ice. But Boris is clearly a comet.

Artistic representation of Oumuamua. It was not a comet. It had no coma and no tail. But it was from somewhere else in the galaxy. Picture credits: ESO / M. Kornmesser

Comets contain a lot of water ice and other volatile substances. When they get close enough to the sun, part of the ice sublimates into gas, producing the characteristic coma and tail that is evident in many comet images. In these Hubble images by 2I / Borisov a coma and a tail are clearly visible.

"While Oumuamua seemed like a rock, Borisov is really active, more like a normal comet. It's a mystery why these two are so different, "said David Jewitt of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in a press release. Jewiit is the leader of the Hubble team who watched the comet.

<img src = "https://www.universetoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Halleys_Comet_1910.jpg" alt = "A classic image of probably the most famous comet, Halley's Comet the tail are clearly visible in the picture.2I / Borisov has the same characteristics as the interstellar object Oumuamua. Photo credits: By The Yerkes Observatory Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2949024 [19659010<EinklassischesBilddeswahrscheinlichbekanntestenKometenHalleysKometDasKomaundderSchwanzsindaufdemBilddeutlichsichtbar2I/BorisovhatdiegleichenEigenschaftenwiedasinterstellareObjektOumuamuaBildnachweis:VonderYerkesobservatoryPublicdomainhttps://commonswikimediaorg/w/indexphpcurid=2949024[19659005<NatürlichistesmehralsnureinvorübergehendesStückneugierigeAugenweideBoriswirddiegleichenBausteine​​wiealleanderenKörpereinschließlichPlaneteninseinemheimischenSonnensystementhaltenDieTatsachedassessichwieKometeninunseremeigenenSonnenEventhoughanotherstellarsystemmaydifferfromoursthefactthatthecomet'spropertiesseemverysimilartothoseofthesolarsystembuildingblocksisveryremarkable"saidAmayaMoro-MartinofSpaceTelescopeScienceInstituteBaltimoreMaryland

Hubble took these pictures of Boris when he was 418 million kilometers from Earth. On the next approach, on December 27, 2019, it will be two astronomical units from the Sun. As it approaches and retreats, other telescopes will be watching it and we will learn more about it.

But it will not be long. At 177,000 km / h, he does not stay behind for a portrait session. It will fall behind the sun and in mid-2020 it will be as far as Jupiter. Then it will disappear again in interstellar space. "It moves so fast that it almost does not matter that the sun is there," said Jewitt.

Amateur astronomers have discovered many comets, and this is no exception. Amateur astronomer Gennady Borisov from the Crimea discovered it on August 30, 2019. It was followed by other observations by other amateur astronomers (they all talk to each other, you know.) Professional astronomers also took part, and finally the IAU's Minor Planet Center The JPL Center for near-earth object studies calculated the trajectory. This confirmed the interstellar origins of the object.

We know where most comets come from. They have two sources: the Kuiper Belt and the Oorten Cloud, which are still hypothetical at the time. So if an interstellar comet is to storm through our solar system, we need to update our encyclopaedias.

Astronomers believe that many more interstellar objects are likely to come through our neighborhood. In fact, more may be going through right now, but we just can not see it. But maybe we will see more of them when the Large Synoptic Space Telescope 2020 starts work. (It may be renamed Vera Rubin Space Telescope until then.)

We may never know exactly where Boris is from. However, we know that in other solar systems there is a circumstellar disk of ice remnants around young stars. In such situations, there are a lot of gravitational games before a solar system settles down. Chaos in young solar systems may eject comets and send them into interstellar space.

 Artistic representation of a circumstellar debris disk around a distant star. These disks are common among younger stars and could be the source of interstellar comets such as 2I / Borisov. Credit: NASA / JPL
Artistic representation of a circumstellar debris disk around a distant star. These disks are common among younger stars and could be the source of interstellar comets such as 2I / Borisov. Credit: NASA / JPL

But for the time being, astronomers will use Hubble to keep an eye on this issue as it gets closer. The closer the sun comes to it, the more activity is likely and we can find out what it is.

"New comets are always unpredictable," said Max Mutchler, another member of the Observation Team. "Sometimes, when they are first exposed to the intense heat of the sun, they suddenly light up or even begin to shatter. Hubble, with its superior sensitivity and resolution, can monitor everything that happens next.

Thank you Hubble. Please keep us up to date.

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