Dec 17, 2019

Hubble Space Telescope sees interstellar comet, distant galaxy at the same time

Photo: NASA/ESA/D. Jewitt (UCLA)

The Hubble Space Telescope spotted an unlikely cosmic duo separated by millions of light-years in mid-November.

What's happening: A new photo shows the interstellar comet 2I/Borisov and the spiral galaxy 2MASX J10500165-0152029 in the same shot as the comet flew about 203 million miles from Earth.

  • "The galaxy's bright central core is smeared in the image because Hubble was tracking the comet," NASA said in a statement.
  • Scientists keeping a close eye on Borisov have found that the comet looks similar to those that originate in our solar system, but new observations will help them learn even more about the object before it leaves us behind.

What's next: Borisov is now speeding toward its closest approach with Earth next week, when it will fly about 180 million miles from our home planet on Dec. 28 before heading out past Jupiter by mid-2020.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Hubble telescope photographs galaxy 2.5 times wider than the Milky Way

Photo: NASA/ESA/B. Holwerda (University of Louisville)

A new photo from the Hubble Space Telescope shows off a spiral galaxy located 232 million light-years away and thought to be the largest in our known, local universe.

Why it matters: The galaxy, named UGC 2885, is about 2.5 times wider than our galaxy and contains 10 times more stars.

Go deeperArrowJan 7, 2020

Europe launches mission to study distant planets

Artist's illustration of Cheops. Image: ESA/ATG medialab

A European telescope designed to help characterize planets orbiting stars far from the Sun launched to space Wednesday.

Why it matters: Astronomers are on the hunt for another world like our Earth, and this new mission — called CHaracterising ExOPlanet Satellite (Cheops) — could help them figure out if there are habitable worlds somewhere out there.

Go deeperArrowDec 18, 2019

The next great observatories

"The Pillars of Creation." Photo: NASA/ESA/STScI/AURA

Four groups of competing astronomers and astrophysicists have teamed up to present a grand vision for NASA as the community grapples with what the agency's science program should prioritize.

Driving the news: Billed the "New Great Observatories," the teams behind the Lynx, LUVOIR, HabEx and Origins missions are advocating that NASA commit to building all four of these expensive, large space telescopes.

Go deeperArrowJan 14, 2020