On October 19, a research team operating the University of Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS1 telescope spotted something in its sky survey that was unlike anything that had ever been seen in our solar system before. It was an asteroid 10 times as long as it was wide spinning around its axis every 7.3 hours, and coming from the direction of the bright star Vega. Now, it has been verified that the long “cigar-shaped” asteroid flipping through space is the first-ever recorded object from another star system, and according to artist concepts of the interstellar log, well, maybe we should just be glad that we don’t have the ol’ Smell-O-Scope up and running, if you catch our drift.Discover Magazine picked up on news of the long interstellar object, which is the subject of a paper published in the November 20 issue of the journal Nature. It’s been dubbed ‘Oumuamua (pronounced “oh MOO-uh MOO-uh”) by the Pan-STARRS observatory team, which is Hawaiian for “a messenger from afar arriving first.”
NASA partially funded the observations and analyses responsible for discovering ‘Oumuamua, and reports that it had been soaring through the Milky Way galaxy for hundreds of millions of years before its encounter with our solar system. ‘Oumuamua will provide scientists with a unique opportunity for studying the formation of other solar systems, as it’s thought to have been ejected from its parent solar system during early development.
‘Oumuamua is reportedly a quarter-mile long, dense, made of rock and possibly metals, and contains no water, ice, or any hint of dust around it. The totally inert hunk of rock from afar also has a reddish color from being bombarded with cosmic rays over the course of hundreds of millions of years. And although orbital calculations suggest that ‘Oumuamua came from the direction of Vega, its trajectory suggests that it probably didn’t originate in the mobile star system.
After being slingshotted by the gravity of the Sun (which gave it a boost to a skull-exploding 196,000 miles per hour), ‘Oumuamua is now on its way out of our solar system. It will pass by Jupiter’s orbit in May of 2018, and then Saturn’s orbit in January 2019 before leaving our solar system, headed for the constellation Pegasus. All we can say is: May your journey through God’s glorious sewer be a prosperous one, giant poopsicle.
What do you think about this “cigar-shaped” interstellar log of an asteroid? You think this bad boy could clog up one of those low-flow black holes? Give us your thoughts in the comments below!
Images: European Southern Observatory/M. Kornmesser
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