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The interstellar comet Borisov has just lost a piece



  A Hubble space telescope image showing a fragment from comet 2I / Borisov.

A Hubble space telescope image showing a fragment from comet 2I / Borisov.
Image : David Jewitt

Current images of the second interstellar comet It is known that visited the s olar sy tribe, which seems to reveal a fragment or fragments that fall away from its core.

Comet 2I / Borisov came last summer with a lot of fanfare when scientists realized that it was a hyperbolic orbit – which means that it was a visitor from outside the solar system. But unlike the first known visitor Borsiov allowed a closer look when he orbited the sun. Recent observations have shown that it loses matter .

"We have been looking at this thing with space telescopes for months since its discovery," UCLA astronomer David Jewitt told Gizmodo. "We noticed this change in appearance – that it split in two – this week."

A picture taken by Jewitt yesterday [1945918] with the Hubble space telescope shows the comet as one piece already on March 23 but seems to be divided into two parts by March 28 .

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But the comet probably didn't break it in half, said Jewitt . Other comets have changed the appearance like this before; Borisov has probably just lost a fragment that is less than 1 percent of its mass. However, this small fragment is extremely bright, which, according to astronomers is due to the fact that it was a piece of ice that had not been exposed before, which has now become extremely active due to the energy of the sun is. 19659007] Jewitt is not the only team to observe comet fragmentation. Another astronomer telegram post yesterday also reported references to a small fragment that separates from the rock. One ll follows two comet outbreaks reported on March 12 by a team of astronomers in Poland .

amateur a [1945909011] stronomer Gennady Borisov who was first discovered this interstellar visitor on August 30 last year and scientist soon confirmed as the second interstellar object (the first was 2017 & # 39; Oumuamua ). But in contrast to the rocky Oumuamua, the comet Borisov looked surprisingly familiar – this is like an icy comet of the solar system with a cloud called coma and a tail that happened to have arrived from outside the solar system.

Scientists have been tracking the object with space-based telescopes since it came closest to the sun in December. You have already learned more about it, said Jewitt. Initial estimates indicated that Borisov was large (maybe 8 kilometers wide), but later observations instead set his radius to a few hundred meters. It has a composition similar to that of comets in the solar system, with water ice quickly turning into gas. But, Jewitt said, it appears to have larger dust particles and more carbon monoxide than comets in the solar system. Carbon monoxide is a volatile element that would otherwise m from the surface of the sun separate from solar energy but not in the case of Borisov. "This thing was in a cold place for a long time," said Jewitt.

Does that mean Borisov split up? Its not clear yet. Jewitt hopes that this is the case – for one thing it would be a cool show, but it would also provide knowledge about the composition of its core and other physical properties.

Scientists continue to monitor comet Borisov. We hope that it will crumble to pieces.


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