Yale astronomers captured a close-up image of an interstellar comet

The comet will make its closest approach to the Sun at just over 2 AU on 8 December 2019.


First spotted in this summer, the comet named 2l/Borisov continues to draw nearer to Earth and will make its closest approach to the Sun at just over 2 AU on 8 December 2019.

Astronomers think that this interstellar comet could be a near-Earth object and was ejected into interstellar space as a consequence of a near-collision with a planet in its original solar system.

Recently, Yale astronomers used the W.M. Keck Observatory’s Low-Resolution Imaging Spectrometer in Hawaii and captured a new, close-up image of the interstellar comet 2l/Borisov.

Originally, they captured the image on Nov. 24 that shows how the comet would look alongside planet Earth.

As reported by Pieter van Dokkum, an astronomer from Yale University, “The comet’s tail is nearly 100,000 miles long, which is 14 times the size of Earth. It’s humbling to realize how small Earth is next to this visitor from another solar system.”

Gregory Laughlin, also from Yale University, said, “2l/Borisov is evaporating as it gets closer to Earth, releasing gas and fine dust in its tail. Astronomers are taking advantage of Borisov’s visit, using telescopes such as Keck to obtain information about the building blocks of planets in systems other than our own.”

Scientists noted, “The solid nucleus of the comet is only about a mile wide. As it began reacting to the Sun’s warming effect, the comet has taken on a “ghostly” appearance.”