A tailless comet discovered in the Oort Cloud, at the edge of our solar system, is returning to Earth. That odd body, the first of its kind ever found by astronomers, could reveal the composition of the early solar system, including Earth and the other inner planets.

Comet C/2014 S3 (PANSTARRS) likely formed near Earth, unlike most comets composed of ices and frozen dust. Astronomers reasoned the body was likely thrown out to the far reaches of the solar system, driven by gravitation from the inner planets.

This unique comet, first seen in 2014, is currently twice as far from the sun as is the Earth. It takes the object roughly 860 years to travel once around our parent star, suggesting the body travels as far out as the Oort Cloud. This comet is the first body ever observed to contain material from the inner solar system, preserved in the frigid regions at the edge of the solar system.

"We already knew of many asteroids, but they have all been baked by billions of years near the Sun. This one is the first uncooked asteroid we have found: It has been preserved in the best freezer there is," said Karen Meech of the University of Hawai'i (UH) Institute for Astronomy.

Calculations suggest the object was formed during the early days of planet formation, and was kicked out to the Oort Cloud billions of years in the past. Only relatively recently, researchers believe, has the object started its travels toward the Earth.

This bare comet is being titled a Manx comet, in honor of the cat breed known for their lack of tails. As most comets close in toward the inner solar system, heat from the sun starts to warm their surface, melting ice. The gas emanating from the body is pushed backward by the solar wind, forming a tail. The amount of outgassing recorded from C/2014 S3 (PANSTARRS) is just 1-millionth as dense as a typical comet at the same point in space.

Various models for the formation of the solar system are still being debated. Examination of Manx comets could reveal secrets of processes which occurred billions of years ago.

Analysis of C/2014 S3 (PANSTARRS) and what it can tell us about the formation of the solar system was published in the journal Science Advances.

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