The interstellar comet 2I/Borisov fell apart. A sharp change in the shape of the object was recorded by the Hubble telescope, according to a study by astronomers from the University of California at Los Angeles. The work was published in the journal Astronomer’s Telegram.
The amateur astronomer Gennady Borisov at the end of the summer of 2019 discovered through the 65-cm telescope of his own design the first interstellar comet in the history of modern science.
In the first months, scientists argued whether the gb00234 object (C/2019 Q4 (Borisov), or 2I/Borisov) can be considered an interstellar comet or is it an ordinary comet, just with a strong parabolic orbit. Now the scientific community recognized 2I/Borisov as the first interstellar comet.
The comet began to collapse on March 4, when the object moved away from the Sun, and its brightness increased to 0.7 magnitude. Astronomers believe that the reason for this was the increased activity of its core.
On April 2, using the Hubble telescope, researchers noticed that the 2I/Borisov shape changed dramatically – it turned into a more oblong object, which consists of two components.
Researchers believe that the comet’s nucleus split into two unequal halves – while one of them was thrown out of a coma.
“Ongoing observations of the Hubble telescope over the interstellar object 2I/Borisov indicate dramatic changes in its appearance. The images taken on March 30 indicate that its core now consists of two objects distant from each other by a distance of 180 km. The speed of their movement corresponds to the speed with which the fragments of comets of the Solar System move after the split of their core”.
David Jewitt, lead author of the study