Strange Comet or Asteroid Could be First Interstellar Object


A small, recently discovered asteroid - or perhaps a comet - appears to have originated from outside the solar system, coming from somewhere else in our galaxy.

Currently, the staff of the global astronomical center virtually nothing is known about the "outside" of comet C/U1 2017. "It's going extremely fast and on such a trajectory that we say with confidence that this object is on its way out of the solar system and not coming back". The asteroid or comet has received the temporary designation of A/2017 U1 as the International Astronomical Union still has to formulate a convention for the nomenclature of this newly observed category of objects. Earlier, Russian researchers from Irkutsk announced the intention to explore the milky way for the presence in it of an unknown planet.

"Its motion could not be explained using either a normal solar system asteroid or comet orbit", Weryk said in a press release.

Astronomers rightfully got excited, since their observations could mark the first detection of a comet or asteroid from interstellar space, or the void between stars. That observation was used to get astrometry data, or information about the brightness, position, and movement of objects in space. "Unless there are serious problems with much of the astronomy listed below", the astronomers wrote, "...this object may be the first clear case of an interstellar comet"-a comet that came for a visit from outside our own solar system.

The sun's gravity caused the object to make a steep turn, and it passed safely under the Earth's orbit on October 14 at about 15 million miles, which is roughly 60 times the distance between Earth and the moon. "So far, everything indicates this is likely an interstellar object, but more data would help to confirm it".

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CNEOS scientists subsequently analyzed its past and future trajectories, discovering it came from the direction of the constellation Lyra at a speed of 15.8 miles (25.5 km) per second and is headed on a one-way journey out of the solar system toward the constellation Pegasus, now traveling at 27 miles (44 km) per second.

NASA say that on October 14, it safely passed our home world at a distance of about 15 million miles (24 million kilometers) - that's about 60 times the distance to the moon. "It may have been accelerated by a collision or close encounter with a giant planet in our solar system", Porter said.

Animation showing the path of A/2017 U1 through the solar system.

Pan-STARRS1 Observatory atop Haleakala Maui at sunset. Their biggest clue is its hyperbolic orbit: rather than endlessly circling the sun in an ellipse, the object's path extends into the unknown far beyond our solar system. All are projects of NASA's Near-Earth Object Observations Program, and elements of the agency's Planetary Defense Coordination Office within NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

What's most surprising is that we've never seen any, said Karen Meech, an astronomer at Hawaii's IfA who specializes in small bodies.