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(CNN) Astronomers have captured the best and closest image to date of interstellar comet 2I/Borisov, a visitor that originated from outside of our solar system and is currently passing through.
This is only the second interstellar object to cross into our solar system after 'Oumuamua in 2017.
Astronomers at Yale University used the W.M. Keck Observatory's Low-Resolution Imaging Spectrometer, located in Hawaii, to provide the closest look at the interstellar comet since it was first observed over the summer.
They also provided an image they created to show it relative to Earth.
The new photo reveals the comet's impressive tail, which extends for nearly 100,000 miles. That's 14 times the size of Earth, according to the researchers at Yale.
"It's humbling to realize how small Earth is next to this visitor from another solar system," said Pieter van Dokkum, a Yale astronomer.
On December 8, the comet will pass within 190 million miles of Earth on its closest approach before continuing on through our solar system. As it gets closer to Earth, the icy comet is shedding more gas and dust through its tail through evaporation.
This illustration shows the path of comet 21/Borisov through our Solar System. This visitor came from interstellar space along a hyperbolic trajectory. It is only the second known intruder to zoom through our Solar System (the interstellar object ‘Oumuamua was detected in 2017).
As the graphic shows, the comet’s straight path across interstellar space is slightly deflected by the gravitational pull of our Sun. The comet is travelling so fast, at over 155 000 kilometres per hour, it will eventually leave the Solar System.
The panel on the right shows the comet’s position relative to Earth when the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope observed it on 12 October 2019, when it was 420 million kilometres from Earth.
NASA, ESA, J. Olmsted, F. Summers (STScI).
originally posted by: Ophiuchus 13
originally posted by: Blue Shift
"Let's shoot at it!" -- Humans
Would be interesting if we aimed a powerfully laser or beam at it sending signals it's direction and it changed directions or stopped.