The Hubble Space Telescope has snapped the best images to date showing the interstellar comet known as 2I/Borisov, and one of the pictures shows a faraway spiral galaxy just off to the side.
Pictures captured by the Hubble Space Telescope show the second known interstellar object, 2I/Borisov, in all its cometary glory.
The images were taken by the telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 on Oct. 12, when 2I/Borisov was 260 million miles from Earth. The object was discovered by Crimean amateur astronomer Gennady Borisov in August, and since then its path has been traced to far beyond our solar system.
2I/Borisov is currently zooming through our celestial neighborhood at a speed of 110,000 mph. The comet won’t come any closer than 190 million miles to us, with the closest approach expected on Dec. 7 — and it’s on a course to leave our solar system for good.
Two years after astronomers made their first detection of a celestial object that came into our solar system from the neighborhood of another star, they have now confirmed the existence of another one.
The comet, originally known as C/2019 Q4 (Borisov), was discovered on Aug. 30 by Gennady Borisov at the MARGO observatory in Crimea, a region that’s contested by Ukraine and Russia.
Based on an analysis of night-by-night observations, the International Astronomical Union announced today that the comet is “unambiguously interstellar in origin,” coming in from far beyond our solar system. The IAU also gave the object a new name to befit its interstellar status: 2I/Borisov.