From a planetary system far, far away, the first known asteroid has come to visit our Solar System. Scientists have struggled to come up with a name for it, given the fact that it’s the first of its kind. So, from now on, this asteroid will be called ‘Oumuamua. In Hawaiian, this means “a messenger from afar arriving first.” Its name is also on tribute for the Hawaiian astronomer who first discovered it from an observatory in Maui. Rob Weryk discovered it this year, on October 19.
Him along with his colleague Marco Micheli saw that the object had an incredible speed. It moved so fast that the Sun’s gravitational pull didn’t affect it. Its unusual trajectory suggested that it had come from somewhere outside our Solar System. However, according to experts who have analyzed it, it seems like the asteroid doesn’t have anything particular in appearance.
‘Oumuamua, the first to come from outside our Solar System
‘Oumuamua is actually very similar in appearance with the asteroids we have here in our Solar System. It’s reddish, and its rotation and size are similar with those of our asteroids. Actually, it looks very much like a chunky cigar, measuring 180m by 30m.
According to Jayadev Rajagopal from the United States National Optical Astronomy Observatory, nothing is unusual about this asteroid except for its shape. Actually, it’s so ordinary that one might think it didn’t come from outside our Solar System. But it did.
Rajagopal also said that if planets formed around certain stars the same way they did on our Solar System, it’s possible that this phenomenon would release many objects such as this asteroid. The more formal name of the object is 1I/2017 U1, as given by the International Astronomical Union. The “I” in front of the name stands for “interstellar” and it’s the first object to carry that letter.
Image source: pixabay