Our second interstellar visitor finally has its official name

After Oumuamua, it seems that we Earthlings have detected yet another interstellar object visiting our Solar System, and it now has an official name — 2I/Borisov.

It was one fateful night on August 30, 2019, when amateur astronomer named Gennady Borisov first detected a peculiarly fast-moving object across the Crimean night sky. At that time, it was yet to be confirmed as an actual interstellar object, until the next several days and weeks, where other observatories around the world kept track of its motion and trajectory.

As of now, the official name 2l/Borisov was finally given in honor of the first discoverer. Without a doubt, after many weeks of observation, calculation, and measurement, 2l/Borisov has indeed arrived from somewhere else in the Milky Way. In the official words of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) earlier this week:

“The orbit is now sufficiently well known, and the object is unambiguously interstellar in origin; it has received its final designation as the second interstellar object, 2I.”

Before the official name designation, the interstellar comet had a temporary name of C/2019 Q4, denoting the type of object, and the general time period of its discovery.

For its technical specs, 2l/Borisov is estimated to be about a few kilometers in size. It is officially designated as a comet, and is therefore mainly composed of water, organic (carbon-based) compounds, and a mix of rocky space dust. It is currently on a course that will take it to the point closest to the Sun (perihelion) on December 7, 2019. The distance at this time will be approximately 2 AU from the Sun, as well as also being 2 AU away from Earth. After that, it will go straight ahead and away, to eventually leave the Solar System forever, like Oumuamua.

It is quite notable to point out that the two very first interstellar object discoveries were made within just mere months away from each other. This perhaps points out to our improved detection systems, both hardware and software. But more importantly, the discovery of both 1l/Oumuamua and 2l/Borisov brings us the hope that even more interstellar visitors might be just out there, waiting to be detected before they zip away.

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