NASA reports that ‘Oumuamua, the first known interstellar object gets unexpected force

Jun 28, 2018, 9:00 am

Aniruddha P.

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‘Oumuamua is the first known interstellar object to have traveled through our solar system, and recent observations by international scientists state that it has obtained an unexpected boost in its speed. The force made it shift in trajectory while passing through the inner solar system in 2017.

Marco Micheli, the lead author of the paper reporting, the findings have said that it was revealed that there was another source of force affecting the object than the gravitational forces of the Sun and the planets.

Further revealings include that the speed boost remained consistent with the movements of a comet.

This additional subtle force on ‘Oumuamua likely is caused by jets of gaseous material expelled from its surface. This same kind of outgassing affects the motion of many comets in our solar system. – David Farnocchia, report’s co-author

Usually, comets emit vast amounts of gas and dust while being warmed by the sun. However, team scientist Olivier Hainaut of European Southern Observatory has a different theory than that of Farnocchia’s. He said that they didn’t come across any outgassing happening from ‘Oumuamua.

The team concludes that the object’s outgassing might have generated dust particles, but that’s quite a small amount, enough to boost speed but not enough to detect.

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Karen Meech, another co-author speculates that the dust grains on the comets may have worn away in the trajectory of ‘Oumuamua. To quote her: “The more we study ′’Oumuamua, the more exciting it gets. I’m amazed at how much we have learned from a short, intense observing campaign. I can hardly wait for the next interstellar object!”

The object is the first ever interstellar one caught in earth’s observations and has made it difficult for the researchers to come up with general conclusions regarding this kind of celestial body. But this might as well mean that other star systems eject objects like this, and there should be more out there for us to observe and comprehend!

Regarding the one we already know, NASA provided details on the trajectory: ‘Oumuamua is traveling away from Sun at around 70,000 mph, and is heading towards the edge of the solar system. It is less than half a mile in length and is supposed to pass Neptune’s orbit in the next four years.

The telescopes used in observing the object are Hubble Space Telescope of NASA, Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope in Hawaii, and Gemini South Telescope and Very Large Telescope in Chile.

NASA has arranged for a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) on ‘Oumuamua’s observations from 4 pm to 6 pm EDT today, June 28 at https://reddit.com/r/IAMA.

Source: NASA

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