November 6, 2019

Interstellar comet 2I/Borisov seen by Hubble (Image NASA, ESA, D. Jewitt (UCLA))

An article published in the “Astrophysical Journal Letters” reports the detection of what have been interpreted as traces of water emitted by interstellar comet 2I/Borisov. A team of researchers led by Adam McKay of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center used the Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico to study the light reflected from the comet detecting the “signature” of oxygen in large amounts. The most likely explanation for the presence of this element is that the ultraviolet light from the Sun broke the water molecules emitted into oxygen and hydrogen.