‘Oumuamua, the first interstellar object discovered near the Earth, left us with more questions than answers. The visitor was first observed during its exit from the solar system, and the limited data that astronomical observatories were able to collect have proved challenging to explain. What we know is that ‘Oumuamua was neither a comet nor an asteroid, and none of the exotic theories regarding its origin to date has been able to fully explain its properties.
Two years later, though, the second interstellar visitor was spotted—and it couldn’t have been further from ‘Oumuamua in nature. Borisov exhibited an uncanny resemblance to comets originating from the distant reaches of our own solar system, yet it traveled on a clearly hyperbolic orbit. As the first interstellar comet, Borisov’s similarities to known objects in the solar system allow for an exciting opportunity never afforded by ‘Oumuamua: a direct comparison between the solar system and its cosmic neighborhood.
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