Hubble captured an image of a comet thought to have traveled to our solar system from another planetary system somewhere else in the galaxy. The comet, called 2I / Borisov, was first spotted in August by an amateur astronomer named Gennady Borisov and subsequently portrayed by astronomers at the Canary Astrophysics Institute. The comet has even been subjected to some preliminary analysis that suggests that the gases it emits include cyanogenic gas, which is a combination of carbon and nitrogen.
He is now imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope, creating the clearest image yet of this alien visitor. In the Hubble image, you can see the solid core of ice, which forms the heart of the comet, surrounded by a halo of concentrated dust. This gave the astronomers a better look at the comet and allowed them to compare it with a previous object visited outside the solar system, Oumaamua. And she raised more questions about how and why the two objects are so different in terms of composition.
"While Oumaamua looked like a bare rock, Borisov was really active, more like a normal comet," said David Jitt of UCLA, the leader of the Hubble team that monitors the comet, said in a statement. "The puzzle is why these two are so different."
Hubble was able to capture a comet 420 million miles from Earth, though astronomers have a better chance of seeing the object even closer in the coming months. The comet travels to the sun at a breaking speed of 1
This will allow for a more thorough exploration of this object, which is surprisingly similar to objects closer to us. "Because another star system can be quite different from ours, a comet can undergo significant changes during its long interstellar journey," said Amaya Moro-Martin of the Space Telescope Science Institute in the same statement. "Yet its properties are very similar to those of the solar system building blocks, and this is very remarkable."