NASA says comet C/2019 Q4 is an interstellar visitor

Scientists are excited about a newly discovered comet that is dubbed Comet C/2019 Q4 as the comet appears to have originated from outside the solar system. The comet was discovered on August 30, 2019, by Gennady Borisov from the MARGO observatory in Nauchnij, Crimea. As of now, there has been no official confirmation that comet C/2019 Q4 is an interstellar comet.

If NASA and other scientists can confirm that the comet originated from outside our solar system, it would be only the second such object detected. The fist was Oumuamua that was observed and confirmed in October 2017. As of now, C/2019 Q4 is inbound towards the Sun.

The comet won't venture close to the Earth. Scientists say that it will remain farther out than the orbit of Mars and will come no closer to the Earth than about 190 million miles. After the initial detection of the comet, NASA's Scout system located at the JPL automatically flagged the object as being potentially interstellar.

Currently, the comet is 260 million miles from the Sun and will reach its closest point to the Sun on December 8, 2019. At that point, it will be about 190 million miles from the Sun. The current velocity of the comet is said to be high at about 93,000 mph. The team says that the high velocity indicates that the object originated from outside the solar system and suggests the comet will likely head back to interstellar space.

The trajectory of the comet will see it pass through the ecliptic plane from a 40-degree angle. C/2019 Q4 was ruled a comet due to its fuzzy appearance in observations indicating a central ice body. It's location in the sky from Earth placed it near the Sun. Brightness for the object will peak in mid-December.