Oumuamua originated outside of our solar system
Today’s Video of the Day from NASA Goddard reveals what scientists have discovered about Oumuamua, the mysterious object that tumbled past the Earth at an unusually high speed in October of 2017.
The experts used data from the Hubble Space Telescope as well as ground observations to study Oumuamua, which is the first space object ever known to have origins outside of our solar system. The interstellar mass appears to be about ten times as long as it is wide, and has dramatic variations in brightness.
When scientists did not detect the dust and material that is normally seen trailing from comets, they initially concluded that Oumuamua was an asteroid. However, something other than the gravitational pull of the Sun and the planets was found to be driving the acceleration and trajectory of the object. This behavior could only be explained by vents on the surface that were emitting jets of gases, which is characteristic of comets.
The space rock vanished out of sight in January. Because of its non-gravitational motion, Oumuamua will never appear again in our solar system.
The interstellar object was first spotted by Robert Weryk using the Pan-STARRS telescope at Haleakala Observatory in Hawaii. Oumuamua translates to “scout or messenger from our distant past” in Hawaiian.
Video Credit: NASA Goddard