NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope was able to snap photos of the interstellar comet that recently entered the Solar System. According to NASA, Hubble’s images of the interstellar object known as 2I/Borisov are the sharpest ones to date.

2I/Borisov was first detected on Aug. 30 by an amateur astronomer from Crimea named Gennady Borisov. After studying the trajectory of the mysterious object, the International Astronomical Union as well as NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies confirmed that the comet came from a different star system.

For astronomers, the arrival of the interstellar comet could provide valuable information regarding how planets are formed. They believe that objects such as 2I/Borisov are made from materials that are similar to the building blocks of planets.

"Though another star system could be quite different from our own, the fact that the comet's properties appear to be very similar to those of the solar system's building blocks is very remarkable," Amaya Moro-Martin of the Space Telescope Science Institute said in a statement released by NASA.

According to the space agency, its main space telescope was able to observe 2I/Borisov on Oct. 12 when it was 260 million miles away from Earth. NASA noted that the photos taken by Hubble of the interstellar visitor are the sharpest ones to date.

The agency said that 2I/Borisov is currently traveling across the Solar System at speeds of 110,000 miles per hour. It is expected to reach its closest distance to the Sun on Dec. 7. During this time, the interstellar comet will approach the massive star from a distance of around 200 million miles away.

By mid-2020, 2I/Borisov will be about 500 million miles from Jupiter. Astronomers predict that by this time, the interstellar comet will be exiting the Solar System. It could take millions of years before it enters another system.

Before it leaves, NASA is planning on carrying out more observation missions on 2I/Borisov through Hubble. These are expected to take place in January next year.

"New comets are always unpredictable," Max Mutchler, a member of Hubble’s observation team said. "They sometimes brighten suddenly or even begin to fragment as they are exposed to the intense heat of the Sun for the first time.”

“Hubble is poised to monitor whatever happens next with its superior sensitivity and resolution,” he added.

2I Borisov
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has given astronomers their best look yet at an interstellar visitor — comet 2I/Borisov — whose speed and trajectory indicate it has come from beyond our solar system. NASA, ESA and J. DePasquale (STScI)