Second Interstellar Object to Visit Solar System Confirmed, Named After Amateur Astronomer

© Sputnik / Vladimir Smirnov / Go to the mediabankRussian regions. Irkutsk region
Russian regions. Irkutsk region - Sputnik International
The first interstellar comet and the second interstellar object to enter our Solar System in modern history, it was originally discovered by a telescope maker with a solid history of newly-identified comets.

An unusual space object detected last month, confirmed to be of interstellar origin, has been named after the astronomer and engineer who first reported it, CNN reported Wednesday.

Named 2I/Borisov, after Gennady Borisov – a telescope maker and astronomer living in Crimea who has discovered seven other comets – the object was determined to be a comet that originated outside the Solar System. This makes it the second interstellar object and the first ever interstellar comet to visit the Solar System.

"The orbit is now sufficiently well known, and the object is unambiguously interstellar in origin," says a press release by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center, which gave the comet a name.

Borisov initially spotted the comet using a 0.65-meter telescope he built himself. After his initial observation, the object was analyzed by the Scout system at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which flagged the object as possibly originating outside the Solar System. The Scout system routinely analyses recently found celestial objects for hazards and potential trajectories, CNN report says. 

​The comet was also examined by NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies and by the European Space Agency's Near-Earth Object Coordination Center.

"The comet's current velocity is high, about 93,000 mph, which is well above the typical velocities of objects orbiting the Sun at that distance," says Davide Farnocchia of NASA Center. "The high velocity indicates not only that the object likely originated outside our solar system but also that it will leave and head back to interstellar space."

According to astronomers from the University of Hawaii, the comet is anywhere between 1.2 and 10 miles in diameter.

It will enter the inner part of the Solar System on 26 October, and will get closest to Earth – a distance of 190 million miles – on 8 December, CNN report says. The object will stay visible to telescopes for months.

The first  interstellar object to enter our system in modern history is 1I/Oumuamua, discovered in 2017. It was initially believed to be a comet, but was later designated as a hyperbolic asteroid, the only one of its kind in the known universe. Unlike asteroids, comets are ordinarily named after those who discovered them.

​Borisov first began observing the sky through a telescope when he was 15. He later became an engineer creating professional telescopes that work around the world, according to Rossiyskaya Gazeta. The newly discovered object is the eighth comet to be named after him.

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