Astronomers have released the first results of a deep study of the interstellar facility that last month slipped into our solar system – and discoveries are fascinating
The object is known as 1I / 2017 U1 ('Oumuamua), a Hawaiian name meaning' reach for '(' ou ') and' first, advantage '(muamua). The letter "I" indicates that this is our first ever interstellar visitor, as confirmed by this study.
Published in the journal Nature, results show that the object is bizarre elongated, and is 10 times higher than its width. It is considered to be at least 400 meters long. Each 7.3 hours turns around its axis, with a large variation in the light that reveals its unusual shape.
Observations confirmed that this object – which now surely knows it is an asteroid, not a comet, because there is no visible repetition and reddish color. This is the result of cosmic rays that hit him millions of years as he traveled through the universe, irradiating his surface.
It seems to have a high density, which means it is probably rocky or has high metal content and no significant amount of ice water is present.
"What we find is a fast-rotating facility, the size of at least one soccer field that has changed its brightness quite dramatically," said Karen Meech of the Asthma Institute at the University of Hawaii, the lead author of the study. "This change of light suggests that 'Oumuamua could be more than 10 times longer than it is wide – something that has never been seen in our solar system.'
The facility was first discovered on October 19, 2017 by Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii. He made the way around the sun and went out of the sun, so astronomers rushed to collect as much data as possible.
And they really hurried. Using a number of observatories, including the powerful Very Large Telescope (VLT) in the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile, have been able to find out its size, color, shape and much more.
"We had to act fast," said team member Olivier Hainaut of ESO at Garching, Germany. "'Oumuamua has already passed the closest point to the Sun and has gone back to the interstate space."
Now, astronomers continue to observe the object hoping to get even more data, including where it came from. Several suggestions have already been made, including a star cluster of about 200 light years, but we do not know for sure. But it is like the asteroids of the Solar System, so it could have been born in a planetary system that is like ours.
It is thought that at least one interstellar object is passed through the solar system annually, but it is difficult to notice them, and that is why this is the first. It is believed that upcoming telescopes such as the Large Telescope for Synoptic Surveillance (LSST) will be able to find more such facilities.
And that is, well, totally crazy. A small stone from the other planetary system came to us, waved and walked into the universe. Goodbye, interstellar traveler.