The First Known Interstellar Asteroid Looks Incredibly Weird

Gwen Vasquez
November 22, 2017

The International Astronomical Union is calling it an "interstellar asteroid", the first of its kind. This high "orbital eccentricity" as it is called, therefore suggests the most likely explanation is 'Oumuamua made the journey from outside our solar system.

Finally, NASA has confirmed in his tweet that "An interstellar visitor...scientists have confirmed that an intriguing asteroid that zipped through our solar system in the 1st confirmed object from another star!" Light-curve observations indicate that the object has an extreme oblong shape, with a 10:1 axis ratio and a mean radius of 102±4 m, assuming an albedo of 0.04.

Well now astronomers are pretty certain that the massive object is definitely from outside of our solar system!

Today, scientists are reporting their analysis of 'Oumuamua, an interstellar object spotted last month. And it is also possible that there are many such objects hurtling through the solar system. The most elongated objects we have seen to date are no more than three times longer than they are wide.

Its name comes from the Hawaiian term for messenger or scout.

The first-ever visitor to Earth's neighborhood from beyond our solar system, it turns out, looks like a giant reddish stick thrown for some cosmic dog at the park.

'Oumuamua is over 400 meters long, but only about 40 meters wide, and the interstellar asteroid had been flying through unpopulated space for millions of years before it happened to wander close to home.

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This still gives astronomers a brief chance to study the mysterious Oumuamua, which could carry secrets on how other solar systems have formed. A cigar-shaped object, less than half a kilometre long and barely bright enough to be detected by the world's most powerful telescopes, payed us a flying visit in October this year - reminding us that the heavens still hold plenty of surprises. The roughly quarter-mile-long asteroid was initially thought to be a comet, but the absence of water ice as it neared the sun dismissed that theory.

Not only that, they think that it could be one of 10,000 other alien rocks that could be zooming around, undetected in our solar neighbourhood. Scientists" initial calculations suggested that "Oumuamua came from Vega in the Lyra constellation, which seems entirely plausible until you realise that at the speed the asteroid is travelling (a nippy 85,700mph per hour as of yesterday), it would take around 300,000 years to get here - and Lyra wasn't in that position 300,000 years ago.

The certainty of its extraterrestrial origin comes from an analysis that shows its orbit is nearly impossible to achieve from within our Solar System.

Dr Olivier Hainaut, from the ESO in Garching, Germany, said: "We are continuing to observe this unique object, and we hope to more accurately pin down where it came from and where it is going next on its tour of the galaxy".

'And now that we have found the first interstellar rock, we are getting ready for the next ones'.

When 'Oumuamua was detected by the Hawaiian Pan-STARRS 1 telescope, it was nearly mistaken for just another asteroid.

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