HomeScienceBorisov arrives, the second interstellar traveller to the Solar System

Borisov arrives, the second interstellar traveller to the Solar System


The first one was ‘Oumuamua’, discovered two years ago, and now astronomers have located Borisov, a new object that comes from beyond the Solar System, although its characteristics are, until now, surprisingly familiar to astronomers, according to a study published this Monday.

The experts speculated for decades with the possibility that the space between stars could be populated by bodies such as comets or asteroids, which are expelled from their planetary systems, which may occasionally pass through our Solar System.

The discovery of Oumuamua was the confirmation of that theory, although there is still much to know about this object with characteristics of both comet and asteroid and that some people consider that it could have something to do with an extraterrestrial spacecraft.

Borisov does not have such strange characteristics as ‘Oumuamua’, in fact, the signatories of the article have seen that because of its characteristics it is an interstellar comet, something that had never been seen before.

Thanks to the detection work of a team from the Polish University of Jagiellonian this second object has been found outside our solar neighbourhood, and the first images were taken with the William Herschel telescope in La Palma (Spain).

The experts had created a computer program called “interstellar grinder” with the mission of reviewing online data on newly found comets and asteroids to determine if any could be a host outside our star system.

Finally, on September 8, the program issued a “red alert” to a possible exosolar object. “We really expected to receive that message one day, but we didn’t know when,” he recalls in a statement from Piort Guzik, the study’s director.

The images arrived from the telescope located in Spain, as well as those provided later by another one in Hawaii, allowed to obtain the first significantly important vision of the new body.

The astronomers were able to identify some characteristics that were familiar to them and that they had not seen in ‘Oumuamua’, for example that this new intergalactic visitor has a tail.

Borisov, as the comet has been named after the amateur astronomer who discovered it, has a dust-dominated, reddish morphology with a solid nucleus of approximately one kilometre radius.

These characteristics, said Guzik “make it indistinguishable from the comets of the Solar System”. It is really great because it supposes that our new visitor is one of those mythical and never before seen interstellar comets”, according to Michal Drahus, another of the signatories of the study.

This is a first approximation to Borisov, who will still have to undergo much more in-depth research, as he gains in gloss. The orbit of this new visitor to outer space will cause him to spend several months in view of the telescopes “which makes us believe that the best is yet to come,” according to Waclaw Waniak, co-author of the study.

For this he has already reserved hours of observation at the Gemini telescope in Northern Hawaii and at the long-range European Southern Observatory (ESO).
“We can safely say – he has assured – that research on this body will be transformative for planetary astronomy and a milestone for astronomy in general.


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