Researchers have identified an object that, they theorize, to be traveling too rapid to have actually originated within our solar system


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Harvard astronomers theorize that a meteor the struck Earth"s setting in 2014 can have to be from another solar system, evaluate by what scientists know about "Oumuamua, one interstellar object that zipped with our solar system in 2017. (An artist"s explicate of "Oumuamua is viewed here.) ESA, European southern Observatory / M. Kornmesser

In 2017, scientists announced that they had, because that the first time, detected an object from interstellar space zipping with our solar system—a football-field size asteroid dubbed ‘Oumuamua. Now, as Charles Q. Choi reports because that Space.com, Harvard astronomers say they have discovered evidence the another, significantly smaller interstellar room rock made it into our solar mechanism in 2014—and that this one collided through Earth.

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Astrophysicist Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian center for Astrophysics and also Amir Siraj, a Harvard astronomy undergraduate, suspected the if a huge asteroid like ‘Oumuamua might travel from another star system, smaller sized objects can be make the journey, too. Some could even collide with earth “frequently enough to be noticeable,” they write in a file submitted to the newspaper Astrophysical newspaper Letters.

Researchers had previously determined ‘Oumuamua as an interstellar body due to the fact that its trajectory and high speed—54 miles per second— shown it was not gravitationally bound to the sun. For this reason Loeb and also Siraj searched for the faster meteors recognize by U.S. Government sensors over the previous 30 years and also catalogued through the facility for Near-Earth thing Studies.


They hit upon three possibilities and also disregarded two because of lack the data. Yet the 3rd meteor, which had actually disintegrated above the northeast coastline of Papua new Guinea in January 2014, is a promise candidate because that an interstellar visitor, Loeb and also Siraj contend. The thing was 3 feet wide, through an altitude that 11.6 miles, and had been traveling in ~ a rate of 37 miles a second, reports National Geographic’s Nadia Drake.

t was traveling so rapid that that must have actually been unbound native the solar system—meaning that it, choose ‘Oumuamua, originated from external of the solar system,” Siraj tells Newsweek’s Hannah Osborne. The researcher think that may have actually come native the “deep internal of a planetary system,” follow to the paper, or indigenous a star in a ingredient of the Milky way known as the thick disk.

But other experts aren’t for this reason sure. “The result is interesting, yet rests upon dimensions for a single event,” Eric Mamajek the NASA’s Jet Propulsion laboratory tells Lisa Grossman the Science News. “Was the event a statistics fluke or an yes, really interstellar meteor?”

The new record still hasn’t been peer-reviewed, therefore it continues to be to be seen whether Loeb and Siraj’s findings will be evidenced by the journal. Yet for now, the scientists say that their research study suggests little interstellar meteors can be colliding through Earth fairly frequently, possibly as soon as every ten years, reports Grossman. And if specialists can spot among these objects prior to it burns increase in the atmosphere—perhaps by setting up an alert system that fixes telescopes on fast-moving meteors—they may have the ability to analyze the objects’ gaseous debris.

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"From that,” Loeb speak Choi, “we might infer the compositions of interstellar meteors.”


Brigit Katz | | READ much more

Brigit Katz is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her job-related has showed up in a variety of publications, consisting of NYmag.com, Flavorwire and also Tina Brown Media's women in the World.