(NPR) — The first comet to ever be seen coming from interstellar space will swing by our sun on Dec. 8.
Despite its alien origins, scientists say it looks pretty familiar — so whatever planetary system it formed in, “it's a lot like our own.” #NPRShortWave
The comet, 2I/Borisov, looks surprisingly like comets closer to home. It's a sign that the processes that formed the sun and planets are at work elsewhere in the universe.
Ye Quanzhi of the University of Maryland is one of many astronomers trying to figure out where the heck it came from. He and his colleagues have been looking at photos of the comet, trying to trace its trajectory, and thus work out the last star it visited.
“The Universe is big, so we can only speculate,” Ye says.
Bannister says that Borisov likely formed around another star in a system far, far away.