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Thread: NASA says a new comet is likely an 'interstellar visitor' from another star system — the second ever detected

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    NASA says a new comet is likely an 'interstellar visitor' from another star system — the second ever detected


    Interstellar object comet candidate gb00234 map orbit illustration solar system gravity orbitalsimulator orbital simulator


    Astronomers think they've detected an interstellar object approaching our solar system.

    Called "C/2019 Q4" (formerly "gb00234"), the object appears to be following a path originating from outside the solar system. It may pass near Mars in October.

    This would be only the second interstellar object ever observed in our solar system. The first such visitor, 'Oumuamua, took scientists by surprise in 2017. This time, they're getting ready to watch C/2019 Q4 with "everything" they can, one astronomer said.

    If C/2019 Q4 is indeed interstellar, scientists should be able to study the object until it grows too dim to see in early 2021.

    Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

    Astronomers may have spotted the second object ever to visit our solar system from another star system. The object may even fly near Mars in October.

    Right now, the chances are much higher that the object, known as comet "C/2019 Q4 (Borisov)" (or "gb00234"), is interstellar, rather than a rock from within the solar system. But scientists are not yet entirely certain.

    The first such interstellar object ever detected, the mysterious and cigar-shaped 'Oumuamua (which a few scientists controversially argued may be alien in origin), zoomed through our solar system in 2017.

    An amateur astronomer in Crimea, Gennady Borisov, first spotted C/2019 Q4 in the sky on August 30. It hasn't yet entered our solar system, but astronomers have been collecting data in hopes of plotting the object's path through space and figuring out where it came from.

    "It's so exciting, we're basically looking away from all of our other projects right now," Olivier Hainaut, an astronomer with the European Southern Observatory, told Business Insider. Hainaut was part of a global team of astronomers that studied 'Oumuamua as it passed through the solar system two years ago.

    "The main difference from 'Oumuamua and this one is that we got it a long, long time in advance, " he added. "Now astronomers are much more prepared."

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    Very cool....
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