Likely origin found for mysterious visitor from deep space

╩╗Oumuamua may have travelled from a binary star system

The Royal Astronomical Society in the United Kingdom announced on March 19, 2018 that the object called 1I/2017 ('Oumuamua) - the first confirmed asteroid known to have journeyed here from outside our solar system - may have come from from a binary star system, or two stars orbiting a common center of gravity.

Alan Jackson, lead author of the paper and a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Planetary Sciences at the University of Toronto, said: "It's remarkable that we've now seen for the first time a physical object from outside our Solar System ejects many more comets than asteroids".

There is still much about 'Oumuamua that scientists don't understand, but researchers hope their continued analysis of the object will help them better understand the nature of other planetary systems.

To succeed that, the systems should hold at least one planet as big as Saturn and, therefore, the planet's gravitational influence could indeed tear a space object like Oumuamua from the gravitational attraction of that system's star.

The galactic rock dubbed Oumuamua, which is the same size as New York's Empire State building, sparked a frenzy of interest a year ago.

However, as these researchers investigated further, they found that binary systems (systems with two stars) were quite suitable for expelling objects such as Oumuamua. The asteroid is now barrelling towards the end of our solar system and has become too small to be studied even with the use of the largest telescopes on the Earth.

"'Oumuamua was very likely to have been ejected from its binary system sometime during the formation of planets", Dr. Jackson and co-authors said. One question previously posed was whether the object came from a single star system or a two-star system, which is known as a binary system.

Once they determined that binary systems are very efficient at ejecting rocky objects, and that a sufficient number of them exist, they were satisfied that 'Oumuamua very likely came from a binary system.

With a radius of 200 meters and traveling at a blistering speed of 30 kilometers per second, at its closest, it was about 33,000,000 km from Earth.

"Oumuamua, which is Hawaiian for 'scout", was first spotted by the Haleakala Observatory in Hawaii in October past year. Backtracking its trajectory to the constellation of Lyra indicates that it's been circling the galaxy several times since it was ejected from its home system, with our Solar System being the first it has encountered. The interstellar object was named 11/2017 or "Oumuamua" that means "scout" in Hawaiian. Since then, researchers have determined that it is blasting through space at 30km/s.

"It's really odd that the first object we would see from outside our system would be an asteroid, because a comet would be a lot easier to spot and the solar system ejects many more comets than asteroids".



Other news