Comet 2I / Borisov was the second interstellar object ever to be discovered when it was spotted in 2019. However, there could be as many as 100,000 billion interstellar objects like this in the solar system, significantly more common than ‘we never thought, according to a new study.
Astronomers Amir Siraj and Avi Loeb of the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard University suggest that about one percent of the carbon and oxygen in the Milky Way could be locked in interstellar objects, many of which are in the cloud of Oort.
“There should be around one hundred trillion Borisov-type interstellar comets on the edge of the Oort Cloud,” Loeb wrote in an email to DailyMail.com
Scientists believe that there could be 100,000 billion interstellar objects like Comet 2I / Borisov in the solar system in the Oort Cloud. The Oort Cloud is a theoretical concept of icy objects in the most distant parts of the solar system
Comet 2I / Borisov (photo) was discovered in August 2019 by astronomer Gennady Borisov
The Oort Cloud is a theoretical concept of icy objects at the edge of the solar system, according to NASA.
Scientists believe it is possible that the Oort Cloud contains up to 10 quadrillion objects, although this number is debated, given that it has never been observed.
Siraj and Loeb speculate that the number of interstellar objects exceeds the number of solar system objects in the Oort Cloud.
“Before the detection of the first interstellar comet, we had no idea how many interstellar objects there were in our solar system, but the theory of the formation of planetary systems suggests that there should be less. visitors than permanent residents, ”said Siraj, the study’s senior author, in a statement.
The Oort Cloud is a theoretical concept of icy objects in the most distant parts of the solar system
“Now we are seeing that there could be a lot more visitors.”
Discovered in August 2019 by astronomer Gennady Borisov, comet 2I / Borisov would come from a system of twin stars 13 light years from Earth, beginning its journey almost a million years ago.
“Let’s say I watch a mile-long stretch of railroad for a day and watch a car cross it. I can say that on this day the observed rate of cars passing through the section of railroad was one per day per mile, ”Siraj explained.
“But if I have any reason to believe that the sighting was not a one-time event – say, noticing a pair of crossing gates built for cars – then I can take it a step further and start drawing statistical conclusions. on the whole rate of cars crossing this stretch of railroad.
Research suggests that ~ 1% of carbon and oxygen in the Milky Way is found in interstellar objects
Despite their supposed abundance, only two interstellar objects – Borisov and the highly controversial ‘Oumuamua – have been spotted.
When asked if any of the interstellar objects emanating from the Oort Cloud might be similar in nature to ‘Oumuamua, Loeb told DailyMail.com that since it is not made of carbon or oxygen , it leaves open the possibility that the object is “artificial”. or extraterrestrial, of origin.
Siraj believes this is because humanity does not yet have the technology, taking into account that the Oort cloud is between 200 and 100,000 billion kilometers from the sun and the objects in the cloud do not not produce their own light.
Senior astrophysicist Matthew Holman, who was not involved in the study, said the research could have broader implications much closer to Earth and help humanity better understand the solar system.
“These results suggest that the abundances of interstellar objects and Oort clouds are comparable closer to the Sun than to Saturn,” Holman said in the statement. “It can be tested with current and future solar system surveys. “
“When you look at the data on asteroids in this region, the question is: are there any asteroids that are truly interstellar that we just didn’t recognize before? ” He asked.
“We think they’re asteroids, and then we lose them without doing a detailed examination.”
Siraj hopes next-generation technology, like the launch of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory – slated for 2022 – will help discover more interstellar objects.
Other telescopes, such as the Transneptunian Automated Occultation Survey, which could go live later this year, could also help humanity find more interstellar objects and debris left behind from the formation of planets.
“Our results show that interstellar objects can impose interesting constraints on the formation processes of the planetary system, because their implicit abundance requires the ejection of a large mass of matter in the form of planetesimals,” Siraj explained.
“Along with observational studies of protoplanetary disks and computational approaches to the formation of planets, the study of interstellar objects could help us unlock the secrets of the formation of our planetary system and others.”
The research has been published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
WHAT IS 2I / BORISOV?
2I / Borisov is a comet from outside the solar system.
It is believed to have a core about 0.9 to 4.1 miles (1.4 to 6.6 kilometers) in diameter.
Interstellar comet 2I / Borisov, pictured, currently visiting our solar system is harboring water from another star system, study finds
The comet was spotted by amateur astronomer Gennady Borisov from the Crimean MARGOT Observatory on August 30, 2019.
It will make its closest passage to the Sun on December 8, 2019 – but will not approach any of the planets in the solar system.
2I / Borisov will leave the solar system in the direction of the Telescope constellation.
According to Polish researchers, it probably comes from the Kruger 60 red dwarf binary star system.
The comet is only the second interstellar visit to be spotted.
The first was the cigar-shaped asteroid 1I / ‘Oumuamua, which was detected on October 19, 2017.