Nasa has released images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, which shows 2I/Borisov, a mysterious object that entered our solar system earlier this year.
These images have never been shown to the public before, and reveal a strange kind of object that is rarely seen in our realm of space. In fact, 2I/Borisov is only the second known object to have visited this solar system from another unknown part of the universe. Although, it is important to note that these types of objects likely pass through our solar system often, but it is just incredibly rare for scientists to witness it, so rare, that it has only happened twice.
2I/Borisov is believed to be a comet, and it was initially spotted back in August. It was discovered by a Crimean amateur astronomer by the name of Gennady Borisov. After it was discovered, scientists all over the world began to pay attention to the object, and the Hubble Space Telescope began taking pictures sometime in October.
The images seen in the new press release from NASA were taken in November and December when the telescope got the best look at the object.
The researchers reported that the photos were taken when the comet was about 185 million miles from Earth.
David Jewitt, a professor of planetary science and astronomy at the University of California Los Angeles, was on the team that captured the images that were recently shown to the public. Jewitt says that his team was able to learn a lot about this comet just by observing the Hubble images.
For example, they were able to determine that its nucleus is more than 15 times smaller than earlier investigations suggested it might be. He said that the radius of the comet is smaller than they expected as well, which is also new information for researchers. The comet also reached an incredible maximum speed of about 100,000 miles per hour
With this type of new information, like the total size of the object, they can better estimate the total number and mass of other objects out there in space.
According to NASA, the comet appears in front of a distant background spiral galaxy (2MASX J10500165-0152029). The galaxy’s bright central core is smeared in the image because Hubble was tracking the comet.
Its tail of ejected dust streaks off to the upper right, which can be seen in the photo. NASA also noted that the comet has been artificially colored blue to show fine detail in the halo of dust, or coma, surrounding the central nucleus. The changes made to the color of the image also helps to visually separate the comet from the background galaxy.
The first interstellar object for scientists to witness pass through our solar system was called “Oumuamua” which is believed to have been traveling through space for thousands of years, if not longer. Scientists are still unclear of where either of these objects came from or where they will be headed after they pass through the sights of our space telescopes and satellites.