The Gemini Observatory took images of a space object that will fire past Mars in October. The object with a very pronounced tail travelling at vast speeds has been named C/2019 Q4 and it would be the second interstellar visitor ever known to reach the solar system. It was first spotted by a Ukrainian astronomer, Gennady Borisov on August 30th.
The consensus is that whilst it is not necessarily of alien origin, it implies interstellar travel is possible and that life forms can be transported across all reaches of the universe. So potentially life originating from one solar system could develop in another which in turn could unlock a mystery regarding the origin of life within the universe.
THE MYSTERY object from deep space heading towards our solar system has been pictured for the first time.
Astronomers first spotted the extrasolar comet around two weeks ago, but the scientific world is baffled about its nature and origins.
Experts at the Gemini Observatory took multiple snaps of the rogue space object, which were combined to create a colour image.
It shows the mysterious alien visitor being followed by a very pronounced tail.
This suggests that we may be looking at a comet, although further research is needed to confirm this.
Simulation of C/2019 Q4's possible orbital path (green) through the solar system. The object may pass between the orbits of Mars (orange) and Jupiter (purple) in October.
That would make it only the second interstellar visitor ever known to have reached the Solar System.
The first, a cigar-shaped object called Oumuamua, took the world by storm when it careened past Earth in 2017.
A pair of Harvard scientists claimed it could be an alien spacecraft, sparking a frantic flurry of scans as the object closed in on the Solar System.
Experts found no signs of alien signals, and Oumuamua whizzed past Earth before its true origin could be determined.
Now researchers at European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Germany say an object once thought to be from the Solar System may actually be an interstellar traveller.
"It's so exciting, we're basically looking away from all of our other projects right now," Dr Olivier Hainaut, an astronomer with the ESO, told Business Insider.
Dr Hainaut was also part of a team that studied Oumuamua during its brief visit.
"The main difference from 'Oumuamua and this one is that we got it a long, long time in advance, " he added.
"Now astronomers are much more prepared."
Early images of C/2019 Q4 suggest it's followed by a tail of dust.
That's typically what you see coming out the back of a comet, though scientists say they can't be sure that's definitely what the object is.
With more observations of C/2019 Q4, scientists have worked out the shape of its orbit.
If the object is indeed interstellar, scientists should be able to study it until early 2021, when it will grow too dim to see.
That means we'll have way more time to study it than Oumuamua, which was only visible for a few weeks before it disappeared into deep space, never to be seen again.
The object's core is between 1.2 and 10 miles (2 and 16 kilometers) in diameter. It's expected to pass through our solar system outside Mars' orbit and get no closer to Earth than 190 million miles (300 million kilometers).