Astronomers have found a first-of-its-kind tailless comet whose composition may offer clues into long-standing questions about the solar system’s formation and evolution, according to research published on Friday in the journal Science Advances. The so-called “Manx” comet, named after a breed of cats without tails, was made of rocky materials that are normally found near Earth. Most comets are made of ice and other frozen compounds and were formed in solar system’s frigid far reaches.
Researchers believe the newly found comet was formed in the same region as Earth, then booted to the solar system’s backyard like a gravitational slingshot as planets jostled for position. Scientists involved in the discovery now seek to learn how many more Manx comets exist, which could help to resolve debate over exactly how and when the solar system settled into its current configuration. FULL REPORT