A comet first spotted by a Ukrainian amateur astronomer, Gennady Borisov of the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory, on August 30, looks to be the second known object to visit our cosmic neighborhood from beyond the solar system.
It was given the official name of C/2019 Q4 (Borisov) by the Minor Planet Center. Early images of C/2019 Q4 suggest it's followed by a tail of dust. Unusual, the orbit of the comet appeared to follow a so-called hyperbolic trajectory, which means it doesn't orbit the sun and probably originates from far beyond our solar system. High-quality observations of C/2019 Q4, as it's going to be blocked by the sun for the next few weeks but the comet will give scientists ample time to study it because it won't reach perihelion (its closest pass by the sun) until Dec. 10. Currently, it's 260 million miles away from our sun. The closest it will come to Earth is a distance of 190 million miles.
"The high velocity indicates not only that the object likely originated from outside our solar system, but also that it will leave and head back to interstellar space,"astronimers said. The object will and continue to be observable with moderate-size telescopes until April 2020. Researchers they believe the comet is anywhere between 1.2 and 10 miles in diameter.