On October 19, a strange object showed up in the Pan-STARRS1 telescope images. A postdoctoral researcher at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, Rob Weryk, was the first to notice it. He saw this mysterious object moving very fast across the sky. However, his first thought was that it must have been an asteroid. But he said that only after comparing data from the night before he realized that this was something else entirely.
So, him and his colleagues tried to get more telescope time to observe this object more carefully. Even after calling for reinforcements, they all thought that it looked like a comet. However, after new data showed that it didn’t have the traits of a comet, they established it was an asteroid. Still, it must have been a very weird asteroid because it wasn’t acting like one. It was only after further analyzing it that they researchers discovered the object’s foreign origin. It wasn’t from our solar system but from somewhere else.
An interstellar object visiting our solar system
On October 26, the experts announced their amazing discovery. The team from the University of Hawaii even gave it a Hawaiian name, ‘Oumuamua, which means “visitor from afar arriving first”. After further investigation, they established that the asteroid is the first interstellar object that is visiting our solar system.
Its shape is like a cigar, it’s 800-meters long and has a red color. Its composition is a mystery, but it resembles some organic-rich asteroids that we have here in our solar system. It’s interesting that experts have predicted that this would happen for a long time. When the planets were forming, some material was also sent flying towards the edge of the solar system. Astronomers think that ‘Oumuamua could be one of those pieces of material.
This means that likely, there are other such pieces originating from here and that are currently floating through the universe.
Image source: pixabay