The Hubble Space Telescope has captured new images of the interstellar comet 2I/Borisov as it streaks through the solar system on its way back into interstellar space. The comet is moving at an incredible rate of speed of over 175,000 kilometers per hour. The incredibly high rate of speed makes it one of the fastest comets ever seen.
2I/Borisov is only the second known interstellar object known to have passed through the solar system. The new observations can be seen side-by-side in the image above and were taken in November and December. The closer distance when imaged gives clearer insights into details and dimensions of the interstellar visitor.
The first image taken in November showed the comet when it was 326 million kilometers from Earth. The bright smear on the left side of the image is the distant spiral galaxy 2MASX J10500165-0152029. The galaxy’s bright central core is smeared because Hubble was tracking 2I/Borisov.
The second image is when the comet was near its closest approach to the sun. At that point, it was subjected to a higher degree of heating than it had ever experienced. The comet was 298 million kilometers from Earth in the photo near the inner edge of the asteroid belt.
The closest approach to Earth for 2I/Borisov will occur in late December when it will be 290 million kilometers from Earth. The Hubble team notes that while the comet is only the second known interstellar object to enter our solar system, there could be thousands of such objects in our solar system at any given time, but they are too faint to be detected with modern telescopes. Amateur astronomer Gennady Borisov first discovered 2I/Borisov in August 2019.