Mysterious cigar-shaped interstellar asteroid experienced violent past, reveals new study

Mysterious cigar-shaped interstellar asteroid experienced violent past, reveals new study

'Oumuamua flew through our solar system in October and was originally thought to be a comet, then it was later revealed as a cucumber-shaped asteroid. There are now over 600,000 known asteroids in our solar system.

Scientists from Queen's University Belfast have been examining the curious space object ever since it was spotted in our solar system in October.

Until now, astronomers had been puzzled that 'Oumuamua's color varied between measurements.

Dr Fraser explained: "Our modelling of this body suggests the tumbling will last for many billions of years to hundreds of billions of years before internal stresses cause it to rotate normally again".

"We now know that beyond its unusual elongated shape, this space cucumber had origins around another star, has had a violent past, and tumbles chaotically because of it", said Dr Fraser. Now, a new analysis suggests that 'Oumuamua may have extremely violent origins.

It didn't spin periodically like most small asteroids observed in the solar system, but instead tumbling or spinning chaotically and could have been doing so for billions of years. But the rest of the body is neutral colored. "This argues for broad compositional variations, which is unusual for such a small body", Dr Fraser said. Answer: it is. As Matija Cuk explained in an article for the SETI Institute, asteroids are often just piles of rocks and sand loosely held together by gravity. And scientists are shedding new light on this fascinating object, including that a violent collision sent Oumuamua tumbling through outer space.

So unusual was Oumuamua, in fact, that one group of scientists chose to scan its surface in a hunt for alien technology. Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech.

The first interstellar asteroid to travel in our solar system is truly unusual, and now we might have an answer for why it is. However, there is still much about this interstellar visitor, and objects like it, that remains to be understood. It was the first such object known.

Scientists first identified the alien asteroid a few months ago, saying that a collision or explosion of some kind may have thrown it out of its own planetary system and into the harsh emptiness of space, before it eventually found its way here.

This artist's impression shows the first interstellar asteroid - 1I/2017 U1 'Oumuamua. In addition, it has been officially given the name 'Oumuamua.

But recent survey telescopes, such as Pan-STARRS, are powerful enough to discover them. The research had speculated the possibility about conspiracy theory behind asteroid Oumuamua transmitting radio signals to be true, but these conspiracy theories turned out to be false. "Instead, the object is spinning frantically while reorienting itself, and it could have been for billions of years".

More than 46 million similar interstellar objects journey through our solar system every year, researchers have suggested.

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