NASA’s Hubble Telescope captures images of interstellar comet 2I/Borisov

NASA’s Hubble Telescope captures images of interstellar comet 2I/Borisov

NASA's Hubble Telescope has captured images of the interstellar comet - Comet 2I/Borisov, which came into our solar system recently.

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As the second known interstellar object to enter our solar system, the comet is moving along at a breakneck speed of 110,000 miles per hour. To photograph the comet Hubble has to track it, like a photographer tracking a racetrack horse. (Image source: NASA, ESA and J. DePasquale (STScI)

NASA’s Hubble Telescope has been able to click some images of the interstellar comet – Comet 2I/Borisov, which came into our solar system recently. According to the US space agency, the images that are clicked by Hubble are the sharpest ones of the interstellar visitor to date.

The comet 2I/Borisov was detected earlier this year on August 30 by a Crimean amateur astronomer known as Gennady Borisov. After this, in September, the International Astronomical Union and NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies also confirmed that the comet indeed came from a different solar system after they studied the trajectory of the celestial body.

For various space researchers and scientists, the arrival of this interstellar comet provides clues to the chemical composition, structure and the dust characteristics of planetary building blocks presumably forged in an alien star system a long time ago and far away.

“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,” Amaya Moro-Martin of the Space Telescope Science Institute said in a NASA statement.


NASA said that Hubble Telescope was able to photograph the comet 2I/Borisov on October 12 when the celestial object was at a distance of 260 million miles from Earth. The US space agency also said that these are the sharpest photos clicked of the comet to date.

Read | 2I/Borisov looks similar to other comets in our solar system

The space agency also noted that comet 2I/Borisov is following a hyperbolic path around the Sun and is presently moving at a speed of 110,000 miles per hour. It further stated that the interstellar comet is likely to reach its closest to the Sun on December 7, 2019, when it will be twice as far from the Sun as Earth.

Sometimes by mid of 2020, the interstellar comet will fly past Jupiter from a distance of 500 million miles. Scientists predict that it could go away for millions of years before it gets close to another star system.

Before it leaves our solar system, NASA is planning to carry out future observations on comet 2I/Borisov with the help of Hubble Telescope which are likely to be carried out in January 2020.

“New comets are always unpredictable,” Max Mutchler, a member of NASA’s observing team said in the statement. “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.”

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Recently, a team of scientists published a research paper in the journal Nature Astronomy and according to their findings the comet 2I/Borisov is not very different from the comets that are present in our solar system. According to the calculations of the space researchers, Comet Borisov’s core is estimated to be approximately 1.2 miles (2 kilometres) across.