Scientists may have observed for the first time in history the disintegrating of interstellar comets after traveling around our sun,media CNET reported. Comet 2I/Borisov is the second interstellar object discovered by astronomers. The first was the strange object “Oumuamua” discovered a few years ago, when it was discovered on its way out of the solar system, leaving scientists little time to study.
Borisov was first observed last year, when it was approaching the sun, giving astronomers months to look closely and determine that the object was in fact a comet from outside the solar system. It also turns out to be a lot like comets in our solar system. On Thursday night, a team of astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope published a note in the Astronomertelegram Telegram announcing that the comet “may disintegrate.”
Scientists compared a series of Hubble images from February 24 to March 28 to determine that a small piece of the comet’s nucleus split splinters from the body. According to NASA, the maximum size of the debris is estimated to be less than 328 feet, or 10 percent of the size of the original comet’s nucleus, the team wrote.
Comets tend to split at some point as they approach or leave the sun. Heat and radiation from stars melt the ice that sustains the comet’s nucleus, and the entire comet’s nucleus disintegrates. Borisov made the closest flyby to the sun in December and has been flying into deep space ever since, but the star’s overflight appears to have taken its toll.
In recent weeks, astronomers have observed signs of Borisov’s fate, and the comet’s steam bursts like steam from a boiling pot.
Hubble and astronomers will continue to observe Borisov as it may split more thoroughly, and researchers hope to learn more about the elements that comets bring from far-flung corners of the universe.