Astronomers Just Captured A Stunning Image Of The First Ever 'Alien' Comet To Pass Through Our Solar System

Artist's impression of C/2017 U1

Last week, a mysterious object whizzed past Earth, which scientists suspected was the first 'alien comet' to visit us from another solar system. Now, researchers have revealed stunning images of the comet in action, and information on its possible chemical composition. The image 'sends a shiver down the spine,' according to scientists studying it.

Their findings suggest that it is a small rocky or icy object that may have been drifting through our galaxy for millions or even billions of years, before entering our solar system by chance. Researchers from Queen's University Belfast have been studying the mysterious comet, called C/2017 U1, using powerful telescopes across the world.

While most comets follow ellipse-shaped orbits around the sun, this comet appears to orbit at an angle, and doesn't circle the sun. Its orbital path suggests it entered our solar system from the direction of the constellation Lyra, looped around the sun, and will never return.
Last week, a mysterious object whizzed past Earth, which scientists suspected was the first 'alien comet' to visit us from another solar system. Now, researchers have revealed stunning images of the comet in action, and information on its possible chemical composition

Professor Alan Fitzsimmons, who is leading the study, said: 'By Wednesday this week it became almost certain this object was alien to our solar system. 'We immediately started studying it that night with the William Herschel Telescope in the Canary Islands, then on Thursday night with the Very Large Telescope in Chile.'

Initial findings suggest that the comet is a small rocky or icy object that may have been drifting through our galaxy for millions or even billions of years, before entering our solar system by chance. The object flew into the solar system from above, was close to the sun last month, and is now already on its way back out to the stars, according to the researchers.

Astronomers believe it was probably thrown out of another star system during a period of planet formation. Despite suspecting such objects existed and looking out for them over past decades, scientists have never seen such an interstellar visitor until now.
Initial findings suggest that the comet is a small rocky or icy object that may have been drifting through our galaxy for millions or even billions of years, before entering our solar system by chance 

During their investigations, Professor Fitzsimmons' team captured clear images of the unusual object. Professor Fitzsimmons added: 'It sends a shiver down the spine to look at this object and think it has come from another star.'

The researchers highlight that more information is needed to pin down the exact details of where the visitor came from, but hope that further studies will reveal more about the mysterious comet. But not everyone is convinced that the comet comes from another solar system.

Dr Maria Womack, a planetary scientist at the University of South Florida said: 'It could have interacted with Jupiter or another planet in such a way that changed its orbit. When you think of photos of comets, they're a fuzzy blob.  People have to make determinations of where they think the centre is. Someone who is at the telescope has to make a call.'

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