Scientists have observed the first confirmed interstellar comet
Borisov is around 260 million miles from Earth and will be closest to the sun on December 7.
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has observed the first confirmed interstellar comet passing through our solar system. The image of the comet named 2I/Borisov was captured on Oct. 12 and has been confirmed to be that of a comet.
The interstellar medium is the place where the effect of the sun is not observed. Its starting point is called heliopause.
Scientists are expecting a concentration of dust around the nucleus that is not seen in the image taken by the telescope. This is the second interstellar object observed after Oumuamua in 2017. Oumuamua was a rock whereas Borisov is an active comet.
What information does it provide?
The comet provides information related to the chemical composition, structure, and dust characteristics of stars it is a part of.
How is it unique?
"Though another star system could be quite different from our own, the fact that the comet's properties appear to be very similar to those of the solar system's building blocks is very remarkable," says Amaya Moro-Martin from the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.
In the past, we have seen comets and other celestial bodies entering our solar system, but most of them came from the ring of icy debris (Kuiper belt) around our solar system. The Kuiper belt and the Oort cloud are around a light-year from the Sun.
Borisov is around 260 million miles from Earth and will be closest to the sun on December 7. Its distance when closest to the sun will be equivalent to twice the distance between the Sun and Earth. It is moving at a speed of 110,000 miles per hour.
Where is it going?
The comet is expected to streak off into interstellar space after mid-2020, moving on for millions of years before emerging into another star system.
Max Mutchler, a member of the observing team, says, "New comets are always unpredictable. They sometimes brighten suddenly or even begin to fragment as they are exposed to the intense heat of the Sun for the first time. Hubble is poised to monitor whatever happens next with its superior sensitivity and resolution.