Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope

Possible second visitor from another star sighted

Astronomers are keenly tracking what they expect will be the second object seen to travel into our solar system from deep space. Dubbed C/2019 Q4 (Borisov), the object—possibly a comet—was first spotted by Ukrainian astronomer Gennady Borisov on 30 August as a fuzzy blob moving very fast across the backdrop of the constellation Cancer. Other observatories swung around to take a look, and on 11 September the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center declared that the object likely has interstellar origins because its orbit is “hyperbolic”—not closed into a loop, The New York Times reports. Observers say it will make its closest approach to the sun in early December, pass 274 million kilometers from Earth on 30 December, and that it will be visible for about 1 year. They are hoping to learn more about this object than our first detected interstellar visitor, the cigar-shaped ‘Oumuamua, which zipped through the solar system 2 years ago but was only spied briefly as it sped away.

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