NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory has managed to identify and analyze for the first time an interstellar comet and its water loss during its journey towards the Sun. The object was named Borisov, and it was spotted in our solar system during the last months of 2019. The scientists were unable to classify Borisov in one standard category of comets. By analyzing its properties, the researchers managed to discover that all the comets share at least one of Borisov’s characteristics.
Hundreds of billions of such objects may be orbiting around the Sun. The comets are made of frozen clumps of gases in combination with dust. What is exceptional about Borisov is its speed and computed path, showing that its origins from outside of our solar system. This is the second time that researchers manage to discover and outer object, after the apparition of Oumuamua, a meteorite whose origin is still unclear.
New Research on the Interstellar Comet Borisov
The interstellar comet Borisov was discovered by an amateur astronomer, Gennady Borisov, on the 30th of August 2019. Two months later, the researchers managed to determine the first hint of water left behind by the comet in our solar system. Then, researchers started using the NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to analyze the speed of the comet that reached around 100.000 miles per hour.
When a meteor approaches the surface of the Sun, all of its liquid and gases in its composition begin to evaporate. The astronomers analyzed Borisov’s water production capabilities in a simulated UV environment and managed to determine the size of this comet, which measures only half a mile. About 30% comets present in our system share the hydroxyl and cyanogen compounds found in Borisov’s composition. Nonetheless, Borisov produced the highest rates of carbon monoxide that were ever registered to be released by a comet.
However, the researchers still doubt whether a new category of comets should be created. The study on the interstellar comet Borisov was published on the 27th of April, and NASA has publicly declared the vital information that it managed to provide to the understanding of our solar system.