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56.6 MB (2.1 MB compressed)
5315 x 3721 pixels
45.0 x 31.5 cm ⏐ 17.7 x 12.4 in (300dpi)
DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Illustration of the interstellar comet 1I/2017 U1 ('Oumuamua), discovered in October 2017. It is the first object to be confirmed as originating around another star. It came from the direction of the star Vega, which is 25 light years from the Sun. It is seen here as it is leaving the Solar System. The comet is venting gas (outgassing) on its sunward side, which is increasing its speed. Outgassing is typical of comets, leading to 'Oumuamua being reclassified from its previous status as an asteroid. 'Oumuamua measures up to 400 metres long and is thought to be 10 times as long as it is wide.
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