Unusual chemical composition found inside ‘alien comet’
Astronomers studying a rare interstellar comet hope to learn about its origins by studying its chemical composition.
Astronomers said they discovered that the gas around the mystery comet contained more carbon monoxide than previous comets that came within 186 million miles to the sun.
In December 2019, comet 2I/Borisov reached its closest point to the sun, 190 million miles away, known as perihelion. That same month, the Hubble Space Telescope captured images of the comet, which was discovered by astronomer Gennady Borisov.
Space.com reported that an international group of researchers is working to determine why the levels of CO were between nine and 26 times higher than a normal comet in the solar system.
“The comet must have formed from material very rich in CO ice, which is only present at the lowest temperatures found in space, below minus 420 degrees Fahrenheit,” Stefanie Milam, a researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a statement, according to Space.com.
The comet was reportedly traveling at 21 miles per second when it passed through the solar system.
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Comet 2I/Borisov is only the second interstellar object discovered, following the mysterious cigar-shaped Oumuamua, which was discovered in October 2017.