By Ryan F. Mandelbaum
Last week, the Minor Planet Center announced that astronomers had tentatively discovered the second interstellar object on record—and now we have a picture of it.
Amateur astronomer Gennady Borisov discovered the object, provisionally named Comet C/2019 Q4 (Borisov), on August 30. Follow-up observations have revealed that the object has a hyperbolic orbit, meaning that it was traveling with enough velocity to escape the solar system’s gravity—and implying that it did not originate in this solar system. It’s an exciting discovery.
“What’s exciting scientifically is we can make a comparison, how is this one different from ‘Oumuamua,” the first interstellar object, MPC director Matthew Holman told Gizmodo last week.
Astronomers operating the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph instrument at the Gemini North Telescope in Hawaii captured the image on the night of September 10. Astronomers scrambled to take the image, and after hearing the final details at 3:00 a.m. local time, observed the object less than two hours later, according to a press release.
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