Spotted first in August, this mysterious object coasting through the breathtaking expanse of our Solar System will make its closest approach to Earth – about 190 million miles – this early December.
Investigation confirmed that this second interstellar tourist, designated 2I/Borisov, was catapulted into space following a collision with a planet in its original solar system.
Yale astronomers took this close-up image of 2I/Borisov on November 24, using the W.M. Keck Observatory’s Low-Resolution Imaging Spectrometer in Hawaii.
The nucleus of the comet is only about a mile in diameter, but its tail is estimated to be 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,” says Pieter van Dokkum, one of the team who captured this interstellar beauty.
The team noted that 2l/Borisov is evaporating as it draws nearer to Earth, leaving behind gas and fine dust along its tail. Moreover, reacting to the warming effect of the Sun, the comet has taken on an eerie look.