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Space & Astronomy

'Alien visitor' asteroid had a violent past

By T.K. Randall
February 12, 2018 · Comment icon 9 comments

The asteroid is a visitor from a distant solar system. Image Credit: ESO / M. Kornmesser
The space rock known as 'Oumuamua is thought to have been tumbling around chaotically for billions of years.
The 400-meter-long asteroid, which flew past our planet back in October, became the focus of much debate and intrigue after it was found to have come from a distant solar system.

Now a team of researchers who have been studying the object have discovered that, unlike most asteroids and small bodies in the solar system which spin periodically, 'Oumuamua is tumbling chaotically and may have been doing so for a very long time.

Exactly why this should be the case remains unclear, however the most likely explanation is that it had been involved in a violent collision with another asteroid at some point in the distant past.
"Our modeling of this body suggests the tumbling will last for many billions of years to hundreds of billions of years before internal stresses cause it to rotate normally again," said Dr. Wes Fraser.

"While we don't know the cause of the tumbling, we predict that it was most likely sent tumbling by an impact with another planetesimal in its system, before it was ejected into interstellar space."

"Our results are really helping to paint a more complete picture of this strange interstellar interloper."

Source: Phys.org | Comments (9)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Still Waters 6 years ago
Previous threads:  
Comment icon #2 Posted by Black Monk 6 years ago
I'm looking forward to watching this month's episode of the BBC's The Sky At Night tonight all about Oumuamua.
Comment icon #3 Posted by stevewinn 6 years ago
i was just going to post a heads up for tonights Sky At Night. according to the TV guide its the last of the series, for all the years i've watched the Sky At Night i didnt know it stopped for a break. When does the new Series start?  
Comment icon #4 Posted by Black Monk 6 years ago
I don't know why it says that on the TV guide. It doesn't say it on tvguide.co.uk. It must be a mistake. I'm sure it'll be on again next month.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Eldorado 6 years ago
You're correct.  Here's the BBC Guide. There's two upcoming episodes. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006mk7h
Comment icon #6 Posted by NCC1701 6 years ago
The "tumbling" that they observed is an induced  rotation to create artificial gravity in both ends of the starship.
Comment icon #7 Posted by paperdyer 6 years ago
We can have the new Doctor check it out. Was the asteroid moving that fast that someone couldn't launch something or someone to get a better look at it?  I can't believe we just let it go by with very little investigation.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 6 years ago
Yes it was. But that is no different to any other newly discovered comet or near Earth asteroid. These things are moving far too fast to simply launch a probe to with a few days notice. For example ESA's famous Rosetta mission to the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko required 10 YEARS and a fly-by of Mars to catch its target. Besides do you really think that space agencies have enough funds to keep a few spare rockets and multi-billion dollar space probes laying around just in case something interesting turns up unexpectedly? We didn't, which is how we have learned so much about it in just ... [More]
Comment icon #9 Posted by Not A Rockstar 6 years ago
How cool! Here is a bit more on it for those who missed that show. https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/small-bodies/asteroids/oumuamua/in-depth/


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