2I/Borisov: Interstellar comet with a familiar look

phys.org | 9/13/2019 | Staff
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A new comet discovered by amateur astronomer Gennady Borisov is an outcast from another star system, yet its properties are surprisingly familiar, a new study led by Jagiellonian University researchers shows. The team's findings are being published in Nature Astronomy on 14 October 2019.

For decades, astronomers have speculated that the space between stars may be populated by exosolar minor bodies—comets and asteroids—ejected from their home planetary systems. Studies have also suggested that these bodies may occasionally pass through the solar system and be identified thanks to their strongly open orbits. The discovery of "Oumuamua two years ago brought the long-awaited confirmation, sparking hopes for subsequent detections.

Team - Scientists - Astronomers - Jagiellonian - University

A team of scientists led by astronomers from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, had done their homework well ahead of time. Prompted by the earlier visit of "Oumuamua, they created a computer program nicknamed "Interstellar Crusher" that scanned tirelessly through online data of newly found comets and asteroids in search of guests from far away. On 8 September 2019 at 04:15 universal time, the program issued a red alert and notified the team of a possible new hyperbolic object arriving from interstellar space. "This code was written specifically for this purpose, and we really hoped to receive this message one day. We didn't know when," said Piotr Guzik of the Jagiellonian University, who led the study. A closer investigation into the object's orbit confirmed its exosolar origin, making it the second-known interstellar interloper.

Two days after receiving the alert, the team was already scrutinizing their first images of the object obtained at the William Herschel Telescope on La Palma, Spain, and getting ready to receive...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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