First Interstellar Visitor From another Solar System Dazzles Astronomers

It is the first observed Alien object from another solar system, according to a study in the journal Nature. Preliminary calculations suggest that the alien visitor came from the approximate direction of the bright star Vega, located in the northern parts of the constellation of Lyra.


A recent study has identified the shape of the first alien visitor that astronomers say, has come from another solar system.

Spotted for the first time on October 19 by the University of Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS1 telescope, funded by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observations (NEOO) Program, the asteroid named Oumuamua—which is Hawaiian for “a messenger from afar arriving first”—is around 400 meters long and is extremely elongated, making it look like a giant cigar.

This makes the object even more mysterious as astronomers revealed its aspect ratios is much greater than that of any other asteroid or comet that has been observed in our solar system.

In other words, it’s unlike anything we’ve ever spotted.

Astronomers note that its extremely elongated shape (which is surprising) may help provide new clues as to how other solar systems in our galaxy formed.

According to a study published in Nature, the alien visitor has been wandering through the Milky Way Galaxy for hundreds of millions of years.

“For decades we’ve theorized that such interstellar objects are out there, and now – for the first time – we have direct evidence they exist,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

“This history-making discovery is opening a new window to study the formation of solar systems beyond our own.”

Immediately after the comet was spotted, many observatories on Earth turned towards Oumuamua to study it.

Combined images from the FORS instrument on the ESO telescope found that Oumuamua varies in brightness by a factor of ten as it spins on its axis every 7.3 hours.

And this is rather odd. Astronomers note how no other known asteroid or comet in our solar system varies so widely in brightness, having such a large ration between its length and width.

“This unusually big variation in brightness means that the object is highly elongated: about ten times as long as it is wide, with a complex, convoluted shape,” said Karen Meech of the Institute for Astronomy in Hawaii. “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.”

Preliminary calculations suggest that the alien visitor came from the approximate direction of the bright star Vega, located in the northern parts of the constellation of Lyra.

However, astronomers note that it so extremely long for Oumuamua to make the journey that Vega was nowhere near that position when the asteroid was there some 300,000 years ago.

Furthermore, the object which was originally classified as a comet isn’t one after observations from ESO and elsewhere revealed no signs of cometary activity after it slingshotted past the Sun on Sept. 9 at a blistering speed of 196,000 miles per hour (87.3 kilometers per second), notes NASA.

The object was reclassified as interstellar asteroid 1I/2017 U1 by the International Astronomical Union (IAU),

“What a fascinating discovery this is!” said Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. “It’s a strange visitor from a faraway star system, shaped like nothing we’ve ever seen in our own solar system neighborhood.”

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