COBS News archive

New Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE)
April 04, 2020
CBET 4740 & MPEC 2020-G05, issued on 2020, April 01, announce the discovery of a comet (magnitude ~17) in infrared images obtained with the Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (or NEOWISE; formerly the WISE earth-orbitingsatellite; cf. CBET 4225). The new comet has been designated C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE).

New Comet C/2020 F2 (ATLAS)
April 03, 2020
CBET 4739 & MPEC 2020-G04, issued on 2020, April 01, announce the discovery of a comet by R. Wainscoat on CCD images obtained on Mar. 22.6 UT with the Pan-STARRS1 1.8-m Ritchey-Chretien reflector at Haleakala, which he then noticed (via posting at the Minor Planet Center's NEOCP webpage) was apparently identical with an apparently asteroidal object (magnitude ~19) discovered on CCD images taken the previous night with a 0.5-m f/2 Schmidt reflector at Haleakala, Hawaii, in the course of the "Asteroid Terrestrial-Impact Last Alert System" (ATLAS) search program. The new comet has been designated C/2020 F2 (ATLAS).

Ammonium salts found on Rosetta’s comet
March 14, 2020
Scientists have detected ammonium salts on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (shown in this image bellow) by analysing data collected by the Visible, Infrared and Thermal Imaging Spectrometer (VIRTIS) on ESA’s Rosetta mission between August 2014 and May 2015.

New Comet C/2020 B3 (Rankin)
February 07, 2020
MPEC 2020-C111, issued on 2020, February 06, announces the discovery of a comet (magnitude ~20) by D. Rankin in the course of the Mt. Lemmon Survey (G96), in images taken on 2020, Jan 29 with a 1.5-m reflector + 10K CCD. The new comet has been designated C/2020 B3 (Rankin).

Rosetta and the Chameleon Comet
February 06, 2020
A grand synthesis of Rosetta data has shown how its target comet repeatedly changed colour dur-ing the two years it was watched by the spacecraft. The chameleon comet's nucleus became progres-sively less red as it made its close pass around the Sun, and then red again as it returned to deep space.

ESA starts definition phase for Comet Interceptor
February 06, 2020
Following an internal assessment of the results of the phase 0 studies, the European Space Agency is moving forward starting the Definition Phase (phase A) for the F-class mission Comet Interceptor.

The salt of the comet
January 22, 2020
Researchers have found an explanation for why very little nitrogen could previously be accounted for in the nebulous covering of comets: the building block for life predominantly occurs in the form of ammonium salts, the occurrence of which could not previously be measured. The salts may be a further indication that comet impacts may have made life on Earth possible in the first place.

Building blocks of life spotted on Rosetta's Comet hint at composition of its birthplace
January 21, 2020
Observations from ESA's Rosetta spacecraft are shedding light on the mysterious make-up of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, revealing a mix of compounds thought to be essential precursors to life – including salts of ammonium and a particular type of hydrocarbons. These new studies suggest the comet gleaned this mate-rial from the presolar cloud where the Solar System formed 4.6 billion years ago.

Here and gone: Outbound comets are likely of alien origin
January 20, 2020
Astronomers at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) have analyzed the paths of two objects heading out of the Solar System forever and determined that they also most likely originated from outside of the Solar System. These results improve our understanding of the outer Solar System and beyond.

New Comet C/2019 Y1 (ATLAS)
January 07, 2020
CBET 4708 & MPEC 2020-A72, issued on 2020, January 05, announce the discovery of a comet (magnitude ~18) in the course of the "Asteroid Terrestrial-Impact Last Alert System" (ATLAS) search program, in images taken on 2019, Dec 16 with a 0.5-m reflector + CCD. The new comet has been designated C/2019 Y1 (ATLAS).

Interstellar Comet 2I/Borisov swings past the Sun
December 13, 2019
HUBBLE SNAPS THE BEST CLOSE-UPS YET OF SPEEDY VISITOR FROM THE STARS When astronomers see something in the universe that at first glance seems like one-of-a-kind, it's bound to stir up a lot of excitement and attention. Enter comet 2I/Borisov. This mysterious visitor from the depths of space is the first identified comet to arrive here from another star. We don't know from where or when the comet started heading toward our Sun, but it won't hang around for long. The Sun's gravity is slightly deflecting its trajectory, but can't capture it because of the shape of its orbit and high velocity of about 100,000 miles per hour. Telescopes around the world have been watching the fleeting visitor. Hubble has provided the sharpest views as the comet skirts by our Sun. Since October the space telescope has been following the comet like a sports photographer following horses speeding around a racetrack. Hubble revealed that the heart of the comet, a loose agglomeration of ices and dust particles, is likely no more than about 3,200 feet across, about the length of nine football fields. Though comet Borisov is the first of its kind, no doubt there are many other comet vagabonds out there, plying the space between stars. Astronomers will eagerly be on the lookout for the next mysterious visitor from far beyond.

Hubble observes new Interstellar Visitor [HEIC1918]
October 17, 2019
On 12 October 2019, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope provided astronomers with their best look yet at an interstellar visitor – Comet 2I/Borisov – which is believed to have arrived here from another planetary system elsewhere in our galaxy.

Comets orbital elements
September 27, 2019
Thanks to Gideon Van Buitenen we can now access updated comet orbital elements for planetarium programs.

Naming of new interstellar visitor: 2I/Borisov
September 27, 2019
A new object from interstellar space has been found within the Solar System, only the second such discovery of its kind. Astronomers are turning their telescopes towards the visitor, which offers a tantalising glimpse beyond our Solar System and raises some puzzling questions. The object has been given the name 2I/Borisov by the IAU.

Astronomers May Have Found an Interstellar Comet. Here's Why That Matters.
September 14, 2019
It’s looking likely that a newly discovered comet is actually an interstellar interloper from beyond our solar system. Since its discovery on 30 August, more and more measurements of C/2019 Q4 (Borisov)—named after the amateur astronomer from Crimea who found it—indicate it isn’t orbiting our Sun. Even NASA now says the comet’s extrasolar origin is promising.

Interstellar 2.0
September 14, 2019
Astronomers have spotted an object that looks likely to be a very rare visitor from outside our Solar System. If confirmed, this unusual body would be only the second interstellar object ever detected passing through our neighbourhood.

Newly discovered comet is likely interstellar visitor
September 13, 2019
A newly discovered comet has excited the astronomical community this week because it appears to have originated from outside the solar system. The official confirmation that comet C/2019 Q4 is an interstellar comet has not yet been made, but if it is interstellar, it would be only the second such object detected.

A possible interstellar comet
September 12, 2019
A new comet just discovered by amateur astronomer Gennady Borisov is rocketing through the solar system too fast for the sun's gravity to hang onto it. Indeed, it appears to be a visitor from the stars. Interstellar Comet Borisov will make its closest approach to the sun and to Earth in Dec. 2019.

An Unexpected Companion
August 14, 2019
Last week marked five years since ESA’s Rosetta probe arrived at its target, a comet named 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (or 67P/C-G). Tomorrow, 13 August, it will be four years since the comet, escorted by Rosetta, reached its perihelion – the closest point to the Sun along its orbit.

'Oumuamua is not an alien spacecraft. New analysis suggests a natural origin for our first interstellar visitor.
July 02, 2019
Early reports of the interstellar visitor 'Oumuamua's odd characteristics led some to speculate that the object could be an alien spacecraft, sent from a distant civilization to examine our star system. But a new analysis by an international team of 14 astronomers strongly suggests that 'Oumuamua has a purely natural origin.