Judging by the size of the Oort cloud and the number of long-period comets that were seen until now, scientists estimate that there should be around one trillion comets in the Solar System. Therefore, we shouldn’t be too surprised when the relatively small cosmic objects show up in unexpected places.
Those spectacular and shiny balls that delight our eyes when they show up at night were born on the outskirts of the Solar System from dust and ice. It happened billions of years ago when the planets were still under the process of formation.
Centaur comet located near the group of asteroids corralled by Jupiter
BGR.com writes that NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope spotted what seems to be a Centaur comet positioned somewhere near the group of Trojan asteroids close to Jupiter. Although these asteroids orbit the Sun, they’re also controlled by Jupiter’s gravity. Since the sight of a comet in such a place is completely new, scientists are eager to find out the origin of the rogue space object. They designated it as LD2.
Astronomers believe that the newfound object is a Centaur, meaning a type of icy cosmic objects that are usually wandering somewhere between Jupiter and Neptune. Carey Lisse, a co-author of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, declared:
The cool thing is that you’re actually catching Jupiter flinging this object around and changing its orbital behavior and bringing it into the inner system,
Lisse also added:
Jupiter controls what’s going on with comets once they get into the inner system by altering their orbits.
While simulating the comet’s movements through space, the researchers suggest that it may even leave the Solar System entirely.
The new paper describing the discovery was published in The Astronomical Journal.