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The comet as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. Photo: NASA/ESA/ B. Bolin

For the first time, scientists have found a comet near a population of asteroids orbiting the Sun alongside Jupiter.

Why it matters: It's possible scientists have found a "pit stop" that other comets may take on their way to the inner solar system from farther afield, according to NASA.

The big picture: The comet — named P/2019 LD2 — was discovered not far from a population of asteroids near Jupiter known as Trojans, the new study detailing the finding in the Astronomical Journal says.

  • The comet may have originally been kicked out of the Kuiper belt beyond Neptune before orbiting the Sun near the outer, gaseous planets.
  • About two years ago, the comet flew near Jupiter, which seems to have pushed the object toward the Trojans, where it was found today.
  • "The cool thing is that you're actually catching Jupiter flinging this object around and changing its orbital behavior and bringing it into the inner system," Carey Lisse, one of the authors of the study said in a statement. "Jupiter controls what's going on with comets once they get into the inner system by altering their orbits."

What's next: Scientists think the comet is probably due to leave Jupiter behind in about two years, according to computer simulations.

  • The comet is expected to interact with Jupiter again and then continue toward the inner solar system.
  • "Simulations show that in about 500,000 years, there's a 90% probability that this object will be ejected from the solar system and become an interstellar comet," Lisse said.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Mar 2, 2021 - Science

We're starting to take the Sun seriously

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Politicians, the public and scientists are increasingly paying attention to the danger solar storms pose for life on Earth and off of it.

Why it matters: Solar storms can wreak havoc on our modern, technology-dependent way of life.

Justice Department asks Supreme Court to block Texas abortion ban

Abortion rights activists rally at the Texas State Capitol on Sept. 11, 2021, in Austin, Texas. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

The Justice Department on Monday asked the Supreme Court to temporarily block Texas' near-total ban on abortions while federal courts consider its constitutionality.

The big picture: The court last month allowed the ban to take effect, rejecting an emergency application by abortion-rights groups. The law bars the procedure after cardiac activity is detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

Updated 56 mins ago - Health

This arthritis drug cost $198 in 2008. Now it's more than $10,000

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In 2008, a box of 30 anti-inflammatory rectal suppositories that treats arthritis, called Indocin, had a price tag of $198. As of Oct. 1, the price of that same box was 52 times higher, totaling $10,350.

Why it matters: As federal lawmakers continue to waver on drug price reforms, Indocin is another example of how nothing prevents drug companies from hiking prices at will and selling them within a broken supply chain.