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Two new "ghostly" images catch the first observed interstellar comet whizzing by the sun and in front of a distant, spiral galaxy on the object's way back out of our solar system.
On Nov. 16 and Monday (Dec. 9), NASA's Hubble Space Telescope snapped two incredible and ghostly new photos of the interstellar comet 2I/Borisov, the first interstellar comet ever observed. Amateur astronomer Gennady Borisov first spotted the comet on Aug. 30.
Borisov - Discovery - Kind - Asteroid - Object
Borisov's discovery was the first of its kind. While 'Oumuamua, an interstellar asteroid, was discovered in 2017, this object, also known as C/2019 Q4, is the first-ever interstellar comet that humans have spotted.
"This object is, we believe, a visitor from interstellar space. It was discovered in August of this year, and based on what its observations and its orbit, we believe it is a comet from another planetary system," NASA planetary astronomer Heidi Hammel said during a discussion about 2I/Borisov on NASA TV's media channel on Friday (Dec. 13).
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In the first of these new images, taken on Nov. 16, the comet was approximately 203 million miles from Earth, seen in front of a distant spiral galaxy known as 2MASX J10500165-0152029, according to a NASA statement. You can see the comet's tail of dust up to the right. You can also see that the object's bright core looks smudged, as Hubble was imaging the object while also tracking its movement.
Images - Blue - Details - Coma - Envelope
In both images, 2I/Borisov has been artificially colored blue so that details can be seen in the coma, or envelope of dust and material that surrounds the comet's core, or nucleus. This coloring also makes it easier to tell the comet apart from the spiral galaxy in...
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