08 Dec
Meet the Interstellar Asteroid Unlike Any Other Meet the Interstellar Asteroid Unlike Any Other

Meet the Interstellar Asteroid Unlike Any Other

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The cigar-shaped mass is the first confirmed interstellar object to travel through our solar system, though astronomers are not yet ready to pin down the asteroid's origins.

It's possible that the 400 meter-long asteroid has simply wandered throughout the galaxy for millions of years, with no one star system considered as its "home."

Until, that is, it made an appearance in our skies, where it was discovered on October 19, 2017, by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii. Dubbed Oumuamua, the object was also picked up by other observatories around the globe. According to a report from Forbes magazine, the asteroid "seems to be a dark red highly-elongated metallic or rocky object, about 400 metres long, and is unlike anything normally found in the Solar System."

In a statement, astronomer Karen Meech added, “This thing is very strange, with a complex, convoluted shape."

Oddities observed include its strange, cigar-like shape, believed to be about ten times as long as it is wide. As it spins on its axis every 7.3 hours, the object emits various intensities of brightness variations that don't match up with any comet or asteroid known to be from our own solar system.

“We also found that it had a reddish color, similar to objects in the outer solar system, and confirmed that it is completely inert, without the faintest hint of dust around it,” said Meech.

These clues would indicate that Oumuamua is not a comet but an asteroid.

We may never know where it came from, but can predict where it will go next: Oumuamua will next fly by Jupiter in May 2018 before shooting past the orbit of Saturn in January 2019.

Then, the constellation of Pegasus.

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Read 1693 times Last modified on Friday, 24 November 2017 04:05
Jim Lillie

Jim began writing for newspapers and designing for publishing companies at a time when both industries were just beginning to make the switch from manual to digital platforms. Jim lives in Boulder, Colorado with his teenage son.

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