NASA released on Wednesday (16) an image of comet 2I / Borisov, captured by the Hubble Space Telescope on October 12. This is the first time the US space agency has been able to photograph an interstellar comet. The record was made at a distance of over 418 million kilometers from Earth.
According to the agency, it is the most accurate image of a comet ever made. The photo shows a concentration of dust around the core that could not be seen by Hubble.
The speed and trajectory of the 2I / Borisov indicate that the comet – discovered August 30 by amateur astronomer Gennady Borisov – comes from outside our solar system. Thus, it becomes only the second interstellar object to pass through the area. In 2017, an object named 'Oumuamua' passed more than 38 million kilometers from the Sun before leaving the solar system.
"While 'Oumuamua seemed to be a rock, Borisov is really active, like a normal comet. It's a puzzle to understand the differences between the two," said David Jewitt, leader of the Hubble team that observed the comet.
NASA says the comet "provides valuable clues to the chemical composition, structure and dust characteristics of planetary building blocks, presumably forged in an alien star system long ago and far away."
"Although another solar system may differ from ours, the fact that the properties of the comet look similar to those of our solar system's building blocks is very remarkable," said Amaya Moro-Martin, a member of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. .
According to NASA calculations, the shortest distance between Earth and 2I / Borisov will be recorded on December 7, when the comet will be twice the distance between Earth and the Sun. Its speed is over 177,000 km / h. .
"He travels so fast it's almost like he doesn't care that the sun is there," said David Jewitt.
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