Hubble Captures Comet 'Parked' Near Jupiter in Rare Event, NASA Shares Footage on Instagram

·2-min read

Just like our car needs to rest after being driven for too long, space rocks hurtling through the universe also need a pitstop every once in a while. One such resting comet was recently photographed by the Hubble Telescope. NASA released the footage of this amazing space discovery on their official Instagram handle with the title “Hubble Spots Comet Near Jupiter". The pit stop or the temporary parking spot for this comet is around a group of an ancient asteroid around Jupiter known as the “Trojans".

Much like the comet and the planet, the asteroids of this belt also orbit the sun alongside Jupiter. This is the very first-time comet has been spotted among the Trojans, according to NASA. “After traveling several billion miles toward the Sun, a wayward young comet-like object orbiting among the giant planets has found a temporary parking place along the way,” said NASA in an official release.

The object is named P/2019 LD2 (LD2). Bryce Bolin, the lead Hubble researcher from Caltech, said Hubble is the only device that could have detected this object and its comet-like features in high details. The object comes with a 400,000-mile-long broad tail. The team believes this comet was attracted towards Jupiter’s orbit nearly two years ago.

While the comet is temporarily stationed among the Trojans, it is unlikely that it would stay there for long. Carey Lisse, from the same team, explained that comets like LD2, also called short-period comets, meet their eventual fate by being “thrown into the Sun.” Once that happens, they completely disintegrate and the remnants may hit a planet or it may venture too close to Jupiter once again only to be thrown out of the solar system as a common fate for such objects.

They added there’s neatly a 90% probability that this comet, in about 500,000 years, could be ejected from not just the planet’s orbit, but our entire solar system and eventually become what is known as an interstellar comet.

The footage shared by NASA has been viewed over 251K times so far.