An interstellar comet that entered our solar system approximately two years ago keeps on giving its secrets!
Researchers found out that the comet, called 2l/Borisov, is in a more pristine and unaltered state than any of the previously observed comets in our solar system. The dust around the comet is also interestingly different from that around other comets.
Combining the two, the findings provide solid proof that the comet’s origin is outside of our solar system.
The discoveries were posted last Tuesday in two different studies in the journals Nature Communications and Nature Astronomy.
It is the second observed interstellar object to appear in our solar system, being preceded only by ‘Oumuamua, which was first observed in 2017.
Though the exact nature of ‘Oumuamua is still under debate, it’s more asteroid-like in features, whereas 2l/Borisov has entirely manifested the activity specific to comets.
Amateur astronomer Gennady Borisov observed the comet, and astronomers then confirmed that it originates from outside of our solar system.
However, past observations of the interstellar comet suggest that it is more like those seen in our solar system, and little is known about its core.
A cometary nucleus is the core, solid component of a comet consisting of rock, dust and frozen gas.
New research on the comet, made via the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile, helped astronomers figure out the polarization of light in the comet’s dust grains.
The science behind the space object is similar to how polarized sunglasses manage to filter out glare and brightness.
Astronomers analysed how the sunlight got polarized or filtered by the comet’s dust to learn about the comet’s physical properties.