Experts have confirmed that a meteor that hit Earth in January 2014 came from a different solar system and is therefore the first known interstellar object.
In a recently released memo, officials from the U.S. Space Command have said that the rocky body, which measures only 1.5 feet (0.45 of a meter) across, ‘was really an interstellar object’.
Their confirmation means that the famous interstellar object known as Oumuamua, discovered in 2017, is actually the second interstellar object to visit our solar system.
According to NASA, the meteor illuminated the sky near Manus Island, Papua New Guinea on January 8, 2014, while traveling at more than 100,000 miles per hour.
Scientists believe it may have left behind interstellar debris in the South Pacific, which, if recovered, may reveal more about the origin of the rocky object.
6 / “I had the pleasure of signing a note with @ussfspoc‘s Chief Scientist, Dr. Mozer, to confirm that a previously discovered interstellar object was in fact an interstellar object, an affirmation that helped the wider astronomical community. ” pic.twitter.com/PGlIONCSrW
– US Space Command (@US_SpaceCom) April 7, 2022
According to NASA, the meteor illuminated the sky near Manus Island, Papua New Guinea on January 8, 2014, while traveling at more than 100,000 miles per hour. It may have flooded the ocean with interstellar debris, according to scientists
Much of the information about the object has so far been classified by the US government.
The memo, dated March 1 and shared on Twitter this month, endorses results from U.S. Space Command chief scientist Dr. Joel Mozer.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN METEOR, METEOROID AND METEORITE
Meteoroids are objects in space that vary in size from dust grains to small asteroids.
When meteoroids enter the Earth’s atmosphere (or another planet, like Mars) at high speed and burn up, the fireballs or ‘shooting stars’ are called meteors.
When a meteoroid survives a trip through the atmosphere and hits the ground, it is called a meteorite.
Dr. Mozer ‘underwent analysis of additional data available to the Department of Defense in connection with this finding,’ reads the note, which was signed by Lieutenant General John E. Shaw, Deputy Commander of the US Space Command.
‘Dr. Mozer confirmed that the velocity estimate reported to NASA is sufficiently accurate to indicate an interstellar orbit. ‘
It was back in 2019 that researchers from Harvard University released a study on the preprint server arXiv, in which they acknowledged the meteor’s existence and said that it had come outside our solar system.
The study, which has still not been peer reviewed, reported that the meteor originated from interstellar space with ’99, 999 percent confidence ‘.
According to the authors, the investigation has been awaiting peer review for years so that the claim could be confirmed, but it faces roadblocks from the US government, which withheld key information from a publicly available NASA database.
Amir Siraj, one of the study’s authors, told Vice that he wants to trace fragments from the object that may be at the bottom of the ocean.
“I get a kick out of just thinking that we have interstellar material that was delivered to Earth and we know where it is,” he said.
‘One thing I want to check – and I’m already talking to people about – is whether it’s possible to search the seabed off the coast of Papua New Guinea and see if we can grab some fragments.’
According to NASA, the meteor soared through the sky near Papua New Guinea at more than 100,000 miles per hour and hit near Manus Island on January 8, 2014 (concept image)
The memo, dated March 1 and shared on Twitter this month, endorses results from US Space Command chief scientist Dr Joel Mozer
‘It would be a big task, but we’ll look at it in extreme depth, because the opportunity to get the first piece of interstellar material is exciting enough to check this out very thoroughly and talk to all the world’s experts on garden expeditions. meteorites recovered. ‘
Information about the meteor is sparse, although its details – including its coordinates of Manus Island – are logged in NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) fireball database.
Siraj said he was inspired to examine the meteor and its impact after noticing its normally high speed – over 100,000 miles per hour – compared to the other entries in the database.
“It was really fast, and so I was like ‘Oh my God, this could be an interstellar meteor,'” Siraj told Vice. ‘It hid in plain sight.
‘It was not that we had to dig to find this database – it was more that there had not been an interstellar object before 2017.
‘As a result, there was no reason to believe that there could be meteors that were from outside the solar system.’
Its high velocity implies ‘a possible origin from the deep interior of a planetary system or a star in the thick disk of the Milky Way galaxy’, Siraj wrote in his 2019 paper.
This artist’s impression shows Oumuamua, discovered in 2017. Until now, it was known as the first known interstellar object to visit our solar system
A high velocity is an indicator of an object originating from outside our solar system, because if it were bound by an orbit around our sun, it would be much slower.
By comparison, the Earth orbits the sun at about 66,000 miles per hour.
Siraj hopes that his study, which was submitted to The Astrophysical Journal Letters, will now soon be peer-reviewed and published.
It will then hopefully help the astronomical community and allow research into the implications of the 2014 meteor impact.
The finding, of course, means that Oumuamua has been referred to be the second interstellar object discovered in October 2017.
Originally classified as a comet, Oumuamua was later reclassified as an asteroid, as it lacked a coma – a cloud of gases surrounding the core of a comet.
The third known interstellar object to be discovered, a comet called 2I / Borisov, was discovered by Crimean amateur astronomer Gennady Borisov with a telescope in August 2019 as it passed the sun.
2I / Borisov is one of the most ‘affected comets’ ever observed, scientists announced last year, meaning it has not been altered or degraded by heat and radiation from stars like our sun.
OUMUAMUA: AN INTERSTELLAR VISITOR WHO SAILED AROUND THE EARTH AT 97,200 km / h IN 2017
A cigar-shaped object named ‘Oumuamua sailed past Earth at 97,200 mph (156,428 km / h) in October 2017.
It was first discovered by a telescope in Hawaii on October 19 and was observed 34 separate times in the following week.
It is named after the Hawaiian term for ‘scout’ or ‘messenger’ and passed the Earth at about 85 times the distance to the moon.
It was hailed as the first interstellar object seen in the solar system, but it astonished astronomers.
Initially, it was thought that the object could be a comet.
However, it exhibits none of the classic behaviors expected of comets, such as a dusty, water-particle tail.
The asteroid is up to 400 meters long and very elongated – maybe 10 times as long as it is wide.
This aspect ratio is greater than that of any asteroid or asteroid observed in our solar system to date.
But the asteroid’s light red hue – especially pale pink – and varying brightness are remarkably similar to objects in our own solar system.
Around the size of the Gherkin skyscraper in London, some astronomers were convinced that it was controlled by aliens because of the great distance the object traveled without being destroyed – and its proximity to its journey past Earth.
Alien hunters at SETI – Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence based at Berkeley University, California said there was a possibility that the rock was ‘an alien artifact’.
But scientists from Queen’s University Belfast took a good look at the object and said it appears to be an asteroid or ‘planetesimal’ as originally assumed.
Scientists believe that the cigar-shaped asteroid had a ‘violent past’, after looking at the light bouncing off its surface.
They are not entirely sure when the violent collision took place, but they believe that the overthrow of the lone asteroid will continue for at least a billion years.