Space & Astronomy
'Alien visitor' asteroid had a violent past
By T.K. Randall
February 12, 2018 · 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."
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