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First Known Interstellar Comet Observed

Image: First Known Interstellar Comet Observed

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By    |   Thursday, 26 October 2017 10:32 AM

Researchers may have observed the first known interstellar comet, and the a discovery could expand understanding of space, Engadget noted.

Although humans have been observing comets for thousands of years, they have all come from the solar system.

However, last week astronomers were able to track C/2017 U1, an object that they believe could be the first comet to ever be detected that does not orbit the sun.

Their findings were published on Wednesday by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center.

The comet was moving fast enough to escape gravitational pull but was not connected to the sun.

Scientists have hypothesized that the object is a comet that has escaped from a nearby star and, according to Popular Mechanics, it could have come from the Lyra constellation.

C/2017 U1 was first spotted on Oct. 18 via the PanSTARRS 1 telescope atop Haleakala on Maui, and was observed over six days until it finally passed Earth at about 15 million miles, about half the distance to Mars.

Considering the eccentric orbit of the comet, astronomers believe it came from beyond the solar system.

Based on its apparent brightness, dynamicist Bill Gray calculated that the object would have a diameter of about 175 yards.

"It went past the Sun really fast and may not have had time to heat up enough to break apart," he noted, per Sky and Telescope.

Researchers concluded in their research that, “if further observations confirm the unusual nature of this orbit, this object may be the first clear case of an interstellar comet.”

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Researchers may have observed the first known interstellar comet, and the a discovery could expand understanding of space, Engadget noted.
first, known, interstellar, comet
261
2017-32-26
Thursday, 26 October 2017 10:32 AM
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