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Hubble Gets A Look At Interstellar Comet Borisov And Finds A Familiar Face

15 Oct 2019, 21:02 UTC
Hubble Gets A Look At Interstellar Comet Borisov And Finds A Familiar Face
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Comet Borisov is a rogue comet from another solar system that happens to be passing through ours — the first such discovered. We are in no danger as it will miss Earth and the sun by many millions of miles. Daniel Bamberger, Hubble Space Telescope / NASA / ESA
A lot of us were hoping the Hubble would turn its eye on the interstellar visitor currently passing through our solar system for the first really clear view. On October 12, astronomers did just that, focusing the instrument’s 94-inch mirror on comet 2I/Borisov. I can’t help it, but the comet looks as chubby and round as a newborn baby. I wouldn’t go so far as saying it’s cuddly, but you know what I mean. But appearances are deceptive. This gassy fuzzball has probably been around for billions of years and only recently came knocking at our door.
In the photo we see a tiny, bright central “nucleus” centered in a round, fuzzy glow when extends back to form a short tail. The actual nucleus, an irregularly shaped object made of dust-impregnated ice, is estimated to be several miles across or between 1.4 and 6.6 kilometers. We can’t see it directly because ...

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