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Visitor from interstellar space spotted in our solar system! (it's [probably] not aliens)

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An object, most likely a comet or meteor has been spotted for the first time ever in our solar system. Known very fetchingly as A/2017 U1, it was detected last week by researchers using the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii. Only making a brief visit, the object is now hurtling towards its next location at 97,200 mph (156,400 km/h) relative to the sun. Theories as to what it is are all that's available, so hey, maybe it is an alien!



It's unclear what exactly this thing is. When A/2017 U1 was first spotted, it was thought to be a comet (and was therefore given the moniker C/2017 U1). But further observations have revealed no evidence of a coma — the fuzzy cloud of gas and dust surrounding a comet's core — so the object's name was amended to its current asteroidal designation.


Still, Holman said he suspects that A/2017 U1 is more ice than rock. That's because the stuff that forms relatively far from stars, and is most likely to be booted out of solar systems into interstellar space, tends to be ice-dominated. (Holman also noted that comets don't always display comas; these features develop when the icy wanderers get close enough to the sun for material to boil off into space.)


Visitor from Far, Far Away: Interstellar Object Spotted in Our Solar System

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An update to this: the below is an artist's impression of how this object may have looked and as you can see it is unusual from those asteroids we know from our own solar system.

Using observations from the Very Large Telescope in Chile, Karen Meech, from the Institute for Astronomy in Honolulu, Hawaii, and colleagues determined that the object was at least 400m long, rapidly rotating and subject to dramatic changes in brightness.

These changes in brightness were the clue to 'Oumuamua's bizarre shape.




Bizarre shape of interstellar asteroid - BBC News

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