Did we just receive our first visitor from another star? NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center seems to have confirmed that an interstellar comet has come to earth for the first time in recorded history! Named as 2I/Brisov, this object is the first observed interstellar comet that Hubble Image captured as it passed by our solar system, on as it progresses back to deep space. Reports show that it’s the only second interstellar interloper next to 'Oumuamua that we have observed.
With a speed of 100,000 miles per hour, scientists know that this visitor isn’t bound to stay or has no plans of crashing, despite our sun’s pull. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has followed the curious object since October, revealing that at its center, there is a loose cluster of dust and ice. Hubble has also determined that the interstellar object is just about the 100 yachts long, or 3,200 feet across.
Gennady Borizov, a Crimean amateur astronomer discovered the mysterious visitor on August 30, 2019 and reported it to Massachusetts’ International Astronomical Union Minor Planet Center. To compute the object’s orbit, the Minor Planet Center worked hand-in-hand with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California; computing that it came from somewhere beyond the Milky Way Galaxy, at an origin we don’t know.
Hubble was able to capture the comet after its closest approach, giving us an idea about the size of its nucleus, which is a crucial part of the stellar body. According to UCLA professor David Jewitt, this is important because it potentially gives an estimate about the commonality of these objects in our solar system and galaxy since 2I/Brisov is the first of its kind and it’s exciting to know how many others there are like it. With this breakthrough discovery, astronomers are on the lookout for the next interstellar comet; hopefully more observable than this one.
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