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Interstellar Object Oumuamua

Updated on September 15, 2019
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CowFlipper has a lifetime of years in amateur astronomy experience and research.

Oumumua Our Solar System's Alien Visitor

Artistic interpretation of the long cigar shaped interstellar object.
Artistic interpretation of the long cigar shaped interstellar object.

Oumuamua The Strangest Visitor

October 19th 2017 our Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii observed the first recorded interstellar object rounding the Sun as it headed back out into interstellar deep space. Called Oumuamua (Hawaiian for Scout) the object was observed to have a cigar like shape because of the amount of light reflected off it’s dark red surface as it spun end over end. The object’s trajectory showed that it had entered the solar system at a hyperbolic path north of the solar ecliptic; at such an angle the object could not have encountered any planets or objects from our solar system indicating it had originated outside the local neighborhood of our Sun and planets. The object was traveling so fast it could not be captured by the Sun’s gravitational influence and as it left it unexpectedly lightly speed up showing no sign of a comet tail or out-gassing to explain the objects increase in speed. This fact had the astronomical community scratching their heads

Pan-STARRS telescope

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Where Did It Come From?

Thought to have approached the Solar System from the region of space in the constellation of Lyra lined up with the star Vega there is no way of knowing where it truly originated from or how long it has been traveling between the stars. It’s been speculated to be many things. Scientists believe it is a loose rubble pile of icey rocky objects from deep space. Others speculate that it may have been a natural looking space probe sent to observe our Earth and the system of it’s origin. A newer more probable explanation is that it was neither a solid object of a pile of space rocks but a very wispy like collection of interstellar ice particles or space snow.

Constellation Lyra the Harp

Constellation Lyra the Harp.
Constellation Lyra the Harp.

The object was traveling so fast it could not be captured by the Sun’s gravitational influence and as it left it unexpectedly lightly speed up showing no sign of a comet tail or out-gassing to explain the objects increase in speed


October 2017, astrobiologist Karen J. Meech got the call every astronomer waits for: NASA had spotted the very first visitor from another star system. The interstellar comet -- a half-mile-long object eventually named `Oumuamua, from the Hawaiian for "scout" or "messenger" -- raised intriguing questions: Was it a chunk of rocky debris from a new star system, shredded material from a supernova explosion, evidence of alien technology or something else altogether? In this riveting talk, Meech tells the story of how her team raced against the clock to find answers about this unexpected gift from afar.

In Closing

Whatever the explanation for this visitor it will have observers from Earth speculating as to it's nature and from hence the object may have come from for many many years. I like the idea that it is a probe because like most of us I just think that would be the most awesome explanation for it's visit. But in the end I do believe it is a combination of loose ice and rock mixed with space snow. Whatever the truth is, it has us baffled and intrigued and ready to find more objects like it in the future.

Oumumua Poll

Is Oumumua an alien probe?

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