A team of astronomers have just made one of the most unique space observations which have ever occurred. The main actor is a comet which, so far, doesn’t sound unusual at all. However, this is not like any other comets, as this one seems to originate beyond the Solar System. In other words, the discovery marks the first observation ever of an interstellar comet.
The unusual object was an interstellar comet, which came from beyond the Solar System
Spotting comets is not something unheard of, as humans have kept doing it for a few centuries. However, all these comets that have painted the night sky over time all came from the Solar System. Astronomers haven’t even thought about the possibility of such cosmic objects coming from beyond the Sun, but a recent observation showed them that it’s possible.
Last week, researchers spotted one of the most unusual objects which ever crossed our sky. C/2017 U1 was identified as an interstellar comet, namely an object which entered our Solar System, but does not orbit the Sun. The object moved at a rapid enough speed so that it won’t be affected by any gravitational pull, and was as surprising as it sounds.
The object passed quickly by the Sun, and didn’t have time to be melted
Researchers assumed the interstellar comet might have gotten out of a nearby star system, so it wasn’t so difficult for it to enter out star system. Also, the measurements indicate it might have its origin in the Lyra constellation. This conclusion became clear as soon as they observed the atypical orbit of the comet.
Researchers noticed the interstellar comet for the first time on October 18th with the help of PanSTARRS 1, a telescope on top of Haleakala Mountain in Maui. Researchers kept an eye on it for six days, until it finally came close to Earth at a distance of 15 million miles. The details on the observations have been made public by The International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center.
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