European astronomers have found a previously unknown comet, detected as a tiny blob of light orbiting our Sun deep in the solar system.
Astronomers at the Teide Observatory Tenerife Asteroid Survey team discovered the extremely faint comet, designated P/2014 C1, and now called TOTAS.
The comet's orbit was determined to lie between Jupiter and Mars. This means it will not come close to Earth, researchers said.
The comet was unexpectedly discovered on February 1 during a routine set of observations using the 1 m-diameter telescope at European Space Agency's Optical Ground Station, Tenerife, Spain.
The confirmation was announced by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center on February 4, after eight other observatories confirmed the sighting.
"All comets are interesting especially as they are thought to have played a role in bringing water to Earth in the distant past," said Detlef Koschny, responsible for near-Earth object (NEO) activities at ESA's Space Situational Awareness (SSA) programme office.
"Later this year, Rosetta will meet up with another comet, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and study its nucleus and surrounding gas and dust, so it's especially fitting that a European team has found a new comet this year," Koschny said.
Rosetta is a robotic spacecraft built and launched in 2004 by the ESA, it will reach the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in August.