More Interstellar Visitors Found? 4 Potential Mystery Objects Spotted

‘Oumuamua has certainly given us a lot to talk about.

The first interstellar visitor spotted by astronomers in 2017 has resulted in a massive online debate about its origins.

Is it an alien probe? Is it a comet? An Asteroid? And what are the odds it really is a piece of advanced Alien Equipment, sent to our Solar System to study us?

While aliens may not be the answer and we will leave that argument there for the moment, scientists now say that more objects similar to ‘Oumuamua could be wandering around our solar system.

According to reports, thousands of objects similar to Oumuamua could be trapped in the Solar System, of which hundreds can be identified through their orbits, and four of them would have already been observed by experts.

As explained by Harvard scientists Amir Siraj and Abraham Loeb, hundreds of Oumuamua-size interstellar objects are identifiable by Centaur-like orbits.

The Harvard duo who suggested that Oumuamua may be an alien solar sail due to the object’s very unusual movement, now believes more objects like that are around.

The four potentially interstellar objects — 2011 SP25, 2017 RR2, 2017 SV13, and 2018 TL6 — are thought to travel around the solar system mostly between the orbits of Jupiter and Neptune.

As they made their way through the solar system, they became trapped in the gravity of our solar system.

A recent study describing the mystery objects appeared in arXiv and is being revised for publication by the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The new study is led by Amir Siraj, an undergraduate student in the Harvard Department of Astronomy, and professor Abraham Loeb who still maintains there’s a chance that ‘Oumuamua may be an alien craft.

Searching for other ‘Oumuamua’s

Siraj and Loeb decided to explore the orbital properties of other possible interstellar objects captured by our Solar System and see how many objects similar to Oumuamua could be found.

The scientists used computer models of asteroid-type objects believed to be located between the Sun and Jupiter. Then, they incorporated random conditions to determine their orbits. 

They then compared the results of these simulations with the data obtained by the Pan STARRS telescope, with which Oumuamua was discovered.

According to what they have found, there should be at least 66 possible other interstellar objects just like ‘Oumuamua, ranging in diameter from roughly 100 meters to as big as 10,000 meters.

As Professor Loeb explained to Universe Today, “This yields roughly one such object (of a hundred-meter size) per the volume defined by the Earth’s motion around the Sun. In total, each planetary system needs to eject about 10^{15} such objects during its lifetime… Out of those a small fraction is trapped by the Solar System, as objects pass close to Jupiter and lose energy through their gravitational interaction with it. The Sun-Jupiter system acts as a fishing net that hosts a few thousand captured objects at any time. The objects eventually get kicked out of the system, but new ones get captured, and so there is a steady population.”

The Harvard duo suggests that with the LSST telescope, currently under construction and set to launch in 2022, experts will have better tools to discover dozens of ‘Oumuamua-like objects trapped inside our solar system.

What exactly the four new objects are is up for debate.

“We do not know if they are comets, asteroids, or artifacts,” Siraj told Forbes in an interview.

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