An amateur astronomer has discovered the second known visitor to our part of space from outside the solar system. Even more amazingly, he managed to spot it on approach, meaning we’ll have time to study it.
Gennady Borisov of Crimea spotted the interstellar space rock on August 30. It has now been given the official name of C/2019 Q4 (Borisov) by the Minor Planet Center.
A few more diagrams of gb00234. Realize these assume the nominal hyperbolic trajectory is correct. This has yet to be confirmed. The animation is showing a view of the Sun from the comet +/- 120 years.
Here’s a sim showing where in our sky it came from.https://t.co/m8MHalo1Qwpic.twitter.com/xZUHizVYNe
— Tony Dunn (@tony873004) September 11, 2019
Thankfully, the rock poses no risk of colliding with the Earth and making us go the way of the dinosaurs.
The comet has what’s known as a ‘Hyperbolic trajectory’ meaning that it hasn’t been interfered with by our sun’s gravity which suggests it originated from deep space, outside of our solar system.
The rock is reminiscent of Oumuamua, the first interstellar object we detected as it passed through our solar system, briefly greeting our sun before heading back out again, generating huge excitement here on Earth.
Alas, we only caught Oumuamua after it had left, precluding any in-depth study or analysis. But this comet will reach its perihelion, or closest flyby of the sun on December 10, which should give the scientific community ample time to at least partially study it and take a peak at what life is like outside of our solar system.
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