Friday, November 10, 2017

A/2017 U1: Our First Known Interstellar Visitor

A small, recently discovered asteroid -- or perhaps a comet -- appears to have originated from outside the solar system, coming from somewhere else in our galaxy. If so, it would be the first "interstellar object" to be observed and confirmed by astronomers.

This unusual object - for now designated A/2017 U1 - is less than a quarter-mile (400 meters) in diameter and is moving remarkably fast. Astronomers are urgently working to point telescopes around the world and in space at this notable object. Once these data are obtained and analyzed, astronomers may know more about the origin and possibly composition of the object.

A/2017 U1 was discovered Oct. 19 by the University of Hawaii's Pan-STARRS 1 telescope on Haleakala, Hawaii, during the course of its nightly search for near-Earth objects for NASA. Rob Weryk, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy (IfA), was first to identify the moving object and submit it to the Minor Planet Center. Weryk subsequently searched the Pan-STARRS image archive and found it also was in images taken the previous night, but was not initially identified by the moving object processing.


Some are starting to call A/2017 U1 'Oumuamua.'

Is likely to find its next star in around a quadrillion, yes, quadrillion! years.  (get over the math envy, one friend said)

What is the rotation rate of A/2017 U1 and does it have a comet-like tail?

A/2017 U1 appears to be very red and lack absorption lines.

A/2017 U1 seems to have formed in a warm environment, not like the outer solar system.

A/2017 U1 is likely to be interstellar in origin.

Could A/2017 U1 have formed in a local stellar association?

What does A/2017 U1's detection mean about the universe?

What does A/2017 U1 imply about planetary formation?

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