An unusual Interstellar Asteroid has appeared in our Solar System, and scientists are very excited about it.
Although it’s merely ‘passing through’, the asteroid, known as 1I/2017 U1 (`Oumuamua), has made a (metaphorical) impact as the first recorded visitor of its kind.
The dimensions of the asteroid have been approximated to be around 400 metres (0.25 miles) long, and researchers have been able to chart its orbit through our solar system.
An updated account of the events has been published in NATURE, and has since been simplified (for the benefit of non-academics) across science and technology blogs over the past 24 hours.
The asteroid comes with a plethora of mysterious elements, however, it has been possible for some vital information to be unearthed as it has made its brief visit.
The Verge reported: “Astronomers also think this object — nicknamed `Oumuamua, Hawaiian for “a messenger from afar arriving first”— traveled for millions of years before stumbling upon our Solar System. It seems to have come from the direction of the constellation Lyra, but the asteroid’s exact origin is still unknown. More answers might come soon, as NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope is observing `Oumuamua this week. “Our plan is to look at it through the end of the year, so we can get the very best pass possible and figure out where it came from,” Karen Meech, lead author of the study at the University of Hawaii’s Institute of Astronomy, tells The Verge”
“Initial calculations showed that the asteroid came from the direction of the star Vega, in the constellation of Lyra,” added Science Alert, “However, even travelling at an incredible speed of 95,000 kilometres per hour (59,000 miles per hour), it would have taken 300,000 years to reach Earth from Vega – and Vega wasn’t in the same place 300,000 years ago.
This suggests that ‘Oumuamua could have been travelling through space, unattached to any star system, for hundreds of millions of years.
“For decades we’ve theorised that such interstellar objects are out there, and now – for the first time – we have direct evidence they exist,” said astrophysicist Thomas Zurbuchen from NASA.”