This Hubble image, taken on 12 October 2019, is the sharpest view to date of the comet. Hubble reveals a central concentration of dust around the nucleus (which is too small to be seen by Hubble). Credit: NASA, ESA and D. Jewitt (UCLA)
The Hubble Space Telescope has returned an image of a comet that originated outside our Solar System, providing astronomers with their best view yet of an interstellar visitor at a distance of 418 million kilometres (260 million miles) from Earth.
Hubble observed Comet 2I/Borisov on 12 October as the object barreled through the Solar sSystem at a speed of some 49 kilometres per second (110,000 mph). The Hubble image revealed a bright cloud of dust around the object’s nucleus, an appearance astronomers say is remarkably similar to comets resident in our own Solar System.
Scientists have confirmed the object originated beyond our Solar System by tracking its movement, allowing experts to propagate its course back in time. Comet 2I/Borisov is following a hyperbolic trajectory, and will head back into interstellar space after making its closest approach to the sun 7 December, at a distance twice as far from the Sun as Earth, according to NASA.
“Though another ...