As a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, this site may earn from qualifying purchases. We may also earn commissions on purchases from other retail websites.
“It sends a shiver down the spine to look at this object and think it has come from another star.”
October of 2017 was a really busy cosmic month and one worth remembering for time to come. Astronomers have confirmed that we’ve been officially visited by an object that came from another star system. An alien object in its nature.
It’s called A/2017U1, and its the first alien visitor we’ve actually spotted.
The man who discovered the alien visitor was Rob Weryk, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy (IfA) who was just minding his own business and checking the night sky for near-Earth objects using the university’s telescope located on the island of Haleakala. All of a sudden, he spotted something that looked strange, reports NASA.
“Its motion could not be explained using either a normal solar system asteroid or comet orbit,” he said.
The motion of the object was off. To get to the bottom of the mystery, Weryk decided to contact a colleague from an observatory in the Canary Islands to take a look at the object from another vantage point, in order to make detailed calculations, in hopes of understanding the mysterious nature and moment of the alien visitor. Then, things became clearer: “This object came from outside our solar system,” Weryk said.
Astronomers now know that the object is around 400 meters in diameter. In entering our solar system from the constellation Lyra, it slingshot around the Sun in September and is now speeding through our solar system at a speed of 44 kilometers per second (27 miles per second).
Astronomers believe that A/2017U1 escaped from its home system after a violent era of the solar system’s planetary formation. The object probably wandered around in our galaxy for millions of years, after deciding to stop by our solar system by chance.
“It sends a shiver down the spine to look at this object and think it has come from another star,” said Alan Fitzsimmons, from the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen’s University in Belfast, who is leading an international team now studying A/2017 U1.
Regrettably, the object is too far and is traveling too fast for us to study it more in detail, but experts hope that objects like this one could shed light into how planetary systems are formed in our galaxy.
Featured image credit: paulista/Shutterstock.com