Scientists Suggest New Origin Story for ‘Oumuamua, Our Solar System’s First Interstellar Visitor
by Katherine J. Wu/Smithsonianmag.com
A long time ago, in a stellar system far, far away, a large cosmic object got a little too close to its star—and got shredded to bits.
Buoyed by the star’s immense gravity, the stringy, shrapnel-like remnants of this object were then flung deep into interstellar space, until one of them—a long, thin chunk shaped like a cigar—meandered into our solar system, where skygazing scientists spotted it.
Such a series of events may have been the origin story of ‘Oumuamua, the first known interstellar object to traipse into our solar system, argues the scientists behind a paper published this week in the journal Nature Astronomy. Spotted in October 2017, this odd, foreign object dazzled the world’s astronomers, who have been working to uncover its cosmic roots ever since.
Apart from being the first known object hailing from another star system, ‘Oumuamua attracted immense attention for a slew of other unusual properties, reports Nadia Drake for National Geographic. Its apparent elongated shape resembled nothing in our own solar system, and its movements couldn’t be explained by gravity alone. And while some of ‘Oumuamua’s behaviors resembled those of typical comets, its surface looked rocky and dry, like an asteroid, and read more: