Home Global Village First ever contact made with object from different solar system

First ever contact made with object from different solar system


AFP |

A rocky cigar-shaped object detected in space last month came from another solar system, astronomers said Monday as they confirmed an unprecedented observation.

The discovery may provide clues as to how other solar systems formed, said the researchers, who published their study in the British journal Nature.

The asteroid, named Oumuamua by its discoverers, is the one-quarter mile (400 meters) long and highly elongated –perhaps 10 times as long as it is wide.

The asteroid was initially thought to be a comet, but the European Southern Observatory in Germany revealed that it displayed no signs of cometary activity.

That odd shape is unprecedented among some 750,000 asteroids and comets observed in our solar system where they formed, said the researchers. They concluded that the cigar-shaped thing is from another solar system due to data on its orbit. Asteroids like Oumuamua enter our solar system about once a year, these scientists said.

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But they are hard to trace and had not been detected until now, thanks to stronger telescopes. The detection suggests this object had been wandering through our galaxy, the Milky Way, unattached to any star system for hundreds of millions of years before it ran into ours.

“For decades we’ve theorized that such interstellar objects are out there, and now –- for the first time –- we have direct evidence they exist,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

A rocky cigar-shaped object detected in space last month came from another solar system, astronomers said Monday as they confirmed an unprecedented observation.

“This history-making discovery is opening a new window to study the formation of solar systems beyond our own,” he added.  The asteroid was initially thought to be a comet, but the European Southern Observatory in Germany revealed that it displayed no signs of cometary activity.

Not only does this discovery tell us more about how other solar systems were formed, it marks a historic event. If we can make contact with an object from a different solar system, it may not be long before we are able to explore a different solar system and possibly even find evidence of life outside our planet.

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The asteroid was detected by a telescope in Hawaii. Oumuamua means messenger in Hawaiian.

© Agence France-Presse


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