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Mysterious object could be interstellar visitor


Posted on Friday, 27 October, 2017 | Comment icon 82 comments

Has the mystery object come from elsewhere in the galaxy ? Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
For the first time ever, astronomers have spotted what is thought to be a visitor from a distant star system.
Codenamed 'A/2017 U1', the object, which was recently spotted hurtling past the Sun, could be the first confirmed example of a comet or asteroid originating from outside of our solar system.

Observations have so far suggested that the object is in a strong hyperbolic orbit, which means that it is travelling fast enough to escape the gravitational pull of the Sun.

"When we run the orbit for this [object] back in time, it stays hyperbolic all the way out - there are no close approaches to any of the giant planets that could have given this thing a kick," said Dr Gareth Williams, associate director of the Minor Planet Center.

"If we follow the orbit out into the future, it stays hyperbolic, so it is coming from interstellar space and it is going to interstellar space. If further observations confirm the unusual nature of this orbit, this object may be the first clear case of an interstellar comet."

Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has also been keeping a keen eye on the object's progress.

"We have been waiting for this day for decades," he said.

"It's long been theorized that such objects exist - asteroids or comets moving around between the stars and occasionally passing through our solar system - but this is the first such detection."

"So far, everything indicates this is likely an interstellar object, but more data would help to confirm it."

Source: The Guardian | Comments (82)

Tags: Comet, Asteroid

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #73 Posted by toast on 26 November, 2017, 21:05
BTW:  
Comment icon #74 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 28 November, 2017, 0:55
I'm assuming that's a typo and you mean "piece" not price. toast asked you the following, legitimate and pertinent question about your claim that the asteroid that, "doesn't show much signs of being struck by anything," It's interesting that you replied with aggression rather than evidence and logic to back up your claim. Interesting that you totally avoided answering his question. Interesting but not unexpected. It's not unexpected because there is no evidence or logic to back up your claim. toast asked that question because he understands the significance of it, you replied in that manner be... [More]
Comment icon #75 Posted by bison on 28 November, 2017, 22:06
 Below, please find an article giving further information about the interest of the SETI community in Oumuamua. http://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=38844
Comment icon #76 Posted by toast on 28 November, 2017, 23:31
Hell, I like such stuff:  
Comment icon #77 Posted by bison on 29 November, 2017, 0:07
If it were such a probe, it might become unobservable  sooner than expected, when it sped up. I check frequently, but haven't found anything, so far, to indicate that Oumuamua has disappeared. Will check again for new observations, or the lack of same. \Addendum-- Just checked the Minor Planet Circulars. The latest reported observation of Oumuamua is Nov. 20th, eight days ago. That short a hiatus don't necessarily tell us much. Previous gaps between observations  are similar in length. Past observations: Oct. 25, 26,27, 29. Nov. 1, 10, 13, 20.    
Comment icon #78 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 29 November, 2017, 1:07
Let's assume for a moment that the most unlikely outcome in scientific history turns out to be true and ?Oumuamua turns out to be artificial, surely then you would expect to see some evidence of manoeuvring as the vehicle passed through the solar system. It seems highly unlikely that the vehicle would just allow itself to pass through without taking a look at the most interesting planet in the solar system, the one with technological life. Instead it has passed through following only the laws of Newton and Kepler as it has done so. Odd behaviour for an interstellar spacecraft. Expected behavio... [More]
Comment icon #79 Posted by bison on 29 November, 2017, 4:32
Speaking of SETI interest in Oumuamua, the SETI Institute's Allen Telescope Array is aimed at that mysterious object as I type this. They've concentrated all their observing power into one beam. It's usually three beams pointed at different objects. Link to their website: http://www.setiquest.org
Comment icon #80 Posted by bison on 30 November, 2017, 3:05
Again, tonight, the Allen Telescope Array is monitoring Oumuamua.  At the moment they're listening around 8.52 Ghz. The position of the object is little changed from last night. The Right Ascension remains the same: 23.30 hours. The Declination has shifted from 6.98 to 7.03 degrees. Both positions are in the constellation Pisces. 
Comment icon #81 Posted by bison on 3 December, 2017, 3:09
Oumuamua is under observation again tonight, at the Allen Telescope Array. That's quite a lot of attention it's received lately.  It's apparently deemed at least as worthwhile, as a potential SETI target, as exoplanets, the usual points of interest.  Position now Right Ascension 23.30 hours, Declination 7.21 degrees.  
Comment icon #82 Posted by bison on 13 December, 2017, 18:54
The Breakthrough Listen project will monitor Oumuamua for narrow-band (artificial) radio emissions for 10 hours today, starting at 20 hours GMT, about an hour and a quarter from now. They will listen with the hundred-meter-wide Green Bank Telescope, in West Virginia. This radio telescope is reportedly sensitive enough to detect a signal of one watt strength, about the same as a mobile phone, from the current distance of Oumuamua.  This amounts to about 7 &1/2 times the sensitivity of the Allen Telescope Array, which the SETI Institute recently used to repeatedly monitor this object.   


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