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Back in 2017, scientists spotted a mysterious space rock. The problem was that it didn’t look like anything astronomers had ever seen. So, was it a rocky asteroid? An icy comet? Something else? Without being sure, they nicknamed it ‘Oumuamua and continued analyzing it. Now, a new study, which the journal Nature recently published, claims that as it flies away from us, the mystery might be unveiled. The mysterious space rock seems to actually be a comet.
Thanks to the powerful Hubble Space telescope, researchers tracked the rock’s trajectory as it was flying away from our planet. They managed to discover that its speed wasn’t just the result of gravity. It was going faster and faster which is a clear trademark of a comet that has gas puffing out of its end. ‘Oumuamua has sparked heated debates since it was discovered. Experts cannot seem to agree over its nature. Astronomers expected the first object to visit us from beyond our Solar System to be of this kind. However, that usual cloud of gas and dust surrounding comets wasn’t there. This prompted them to believe that it was made out of metal and rock: an asteroid.
‘Oumuamua it’s a foreign comet after all
It’s interesting that a few month ago, some researchers suggested that ‘Oumuamua was, in fact, a comet. The only difference was that it had a thick coat of carbon-rich grime, hence its icy heart. And the fact that it has exited our neighborhood made many astronomers certain about their presumptions. ‘Oumuamua is indeed a comet, but just a very weird one.
This recent paper did nothing else but track the object’s movement as it was going further away from Earth. And because it was moving faster than it should, it was clear that it had a tail like a comet. ‘Oumuamua is a comet, but one that has fascinated experts and normal people alike since it was first discovered.
Image source: wikimedia