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Leave it up to the good ole Hubble Space Telescope. The workhorse telescope has given us a photo of the new interstellar comet 2I/Borisov. Take that, fancy new telescopes.
2I/Borisov has wandered into our Solar System from the deep cold of interstellar space, but nobody knows from whence it came, or how long it’s been travelling. Boris only the second object we’ve observed that’s come into our Solar System from somewhere else in the galaxy, and the Hubble snapped photos of it speeding along at about 177,000 kph (110,000 mph.) So far, the Hubble images are the sharpest ones yet.
Image - Image - Credit
Annotated image of comet 2I/Borisov. Image Credit:
Our first interstellar visitor was Oumuamua, which sped through our Solar System in 2017. But that object didn’t give up its secrets easily. It came and went and generated a lot of clicking and conjecture, and panicky headlines in some quarters. But it had not coma, and no tail, meaning it had no ice. But Boris is clearly a comet.
Comets - Lot - Water - Ice - Volatiles
Comets contain a lot of water ice and other volatiles. When they get close enough to the Sun, some of that ice sublimates into gas, creating the characteristic coma and tail that is clear in many comet images. A coma and a tail are clearly visible in these Hubble images of 2I/Borisov.
“Whereas ‘Oumuamua appeared to be a rock, Borisov is really active, more like a normal comet. It’s a puzzle why these two are so different,” said David Jewitt of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), in a press release. Jewiit is the leader of the Hubble team who observed the comet.
Course - Piece - Eye - Candy - Boris
Of course it’s more than just a transient piece of curious eye candy. Boris will contain the same building blocks as any other bodies, including planets, in its home solar system. The fact that it’s...
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