First high quality image of interstellar comet


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Comet Borisov
Click for full image.

The Gemini Observatory on Mauna Kea has successfully taken the first high resolution image of comet C_2019 Q4, unofficially Comet Borisov (after its discoverer), the first interstellar comet ever discovered.

The image to right, cropped to post here, is that image. It clearly shows the growth of a coma and possible tail, indicating that as it is approaching the Sun it is releasing material from its surface.

Right now the comet is visually very close to the Sun, when looked at from the Earth, making observations difficult. As in the next few months it drops towards its closest approach of the Sun, and the Earth circles around in its own orbit, the viewing angle will improve.

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6 comments

  • Ron

    The image is good news but can this be taken as good news also in that this picture came from the Gemini Observatory on Mauna Kea? At least they are allowing people to work there.

  • Ron wrote, “At least they are allowing people to work there.” [emphasis mine]

    I want to note how much your comment here illustrates how far we have fallen. You think it is “good news” that this mob of protesters has “allowed” scientists to access telescopes they have a legal right to use.

    Note also that this access will certainly shrink when the protesters finally get their way and TMT is officially cancelled, something I now fully expect. Once they know their mob action works, they will expand their effort to shut down all the telescopes on the mountain.

  • Lee S

    Leaving the politics aside for a moment ( on which, for a change, I’m in full agreement with everyone here!), Has this apparently extra solar comet been discovered because astronomers are now actively looking for erroneous objects, or is it pure chance that another body from outside our system has been identified?
    The first option is wonderful, if these objects are so common, we get the chance to explore the galaxy without leaving our system…
    The second option could be more worrying… Who is throwing large bodies towards our system?
    ( I will put my tin foil hat back on, and get my coat ;-) )

  • Lee S: Read the article that I linked to describing the discovery. It is farther down the page. The discovery was made by an amateur astronomer whose hobby is finding new comets.

    There is no additional effort that I am aware of professional astronomers looking for approaching interstellar objects. The reason we are seeing more such objects is because of the improvement in the technology. That amateur was using equipment that was unavailable to professionals only two decades ago.

  • Ron

    Robert,

    I wish I could say that I was being intentionally sarcastic with my comment. I completely agree that there seems to be mob rule on Mauna Kea. At this point I don’t think there is anyway that the TMT gets guilt and agree that it is only a matter of time for before the other telescopes are shut down. I wonder if there are native people who worship the moon that will impede settlement there?

  • Col Beausabre

    Bob, And when they have shut down the telescopes, having demonstrated their power, what is next? Only people they approve of on the mountain? This not the last we have heard of these fascists, not by a long shot. They’re only getting started. We’ll soon find that Hickam AFB and Schofield Barracks are built on “sacred land” and the military must vacate after knocking everything down. And please remove your stupid USS Arizona, whose mere presence pollutes the “sacred waters” of Pearl Harbor. And don’t tell me it’s a National Shrine, the Japanese gave the US what it deserved for its crimes against people of color – like attacking the peaceful Japanese for no cause at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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