This Hubble image, taken on Oct. 12, 2019, is the sharpest view to date of the comet. Hubble reveals a central concentration of dust around the nucleus (which is too small to be seen by Hubble). Credit: NASA, ESA and D. Jewitt (UCLA)
The Hubble Space Telescope has returned an image of a comet that originated outside our solar system, providing astronomers with their best view yet of an interstellar visitor at a distance of 260 million miles from Earth.
Hubble observed Comet 2I/Borisov on Oct. 12 as the object barreled through the solar system at a speed of some 110,000 mph (49 kilometers) per second. The Hubble image revealed a bright cloud of dust around the object’s nucleus, an appearance astronomers say is remarkably similar to comets resident in our own solar system.
Scientists have confirmed the object originated beyond our solar system by tracking its movement, allowing experts to propagate its course back in time. Comet 2I/Borisov is following a hyperbolic trajectory, and will head back into interstellar space after making its closest approach to the sun Dec. 7, at a distance twice as far from the sun as Earth, according to NASA.
“Though another star system could ...