Interstellar Asteroid Oumuamua Likely Came from Double Star System

Pablo Tucker
March 20, 2018

The unusual cigar-shaped object first emerged on Earth's radars October a year ago when it came across NASA's Pan-STARRS1 telescope in Hawaii.

"The same way we use comets to better understand planet formation in our own Solar System, maybe this curious object can tell us more about how planets form in other systems".

Study lead author Alan Jackson said: "It's remarkable that we've now seen for the first time a physical object from outside our Solar System".

With a length of at least 1,300 feet (400 m), a diameter of 335 feet (100 m), and traveling at a blistering speed of 67,100 mph (30 km per second), at its closest it was about 20.5 million miles (33 million km) from Earth.

Binary star planet

The new study also suggests that the composition of the asteroid may indicate it came from a binary system with a "relatively hot, high-mass star" because those kinds of stars would have more rocky material near them, according to the statement.

"It has been wandering interstellar space for a long time since", the scientists wrote in the Royal Astronomical Society's journal, Monthly Notices. It was declared to be an asteroid, then a comet, and then an asteroid once again, but scientists seem to now have settled on it being a rocky body.

Astronomers were fairly sure the object was from outside our Solar System, based on its trajectory and speed.

In order for something like a comet or 'Oumuamua to be ejected from a star system, it must come in contact with something big-like Jupiter. In single star systems like our own, comets make up the vast majority of objects that are ejected because they form farther away and are less bound by the gravity of the sun. They were also able to determine that rocky objects are ejected from binary systems in comparable numbers to icy objects.


The University of Toronto's Alan Jackson reported Monday that the asteroid - the first confirmed object in our solar system originating elsewhere - is probably from a binary star system.

Dual star systems are likely to have bodies orbiting it that are more rocky than icy, orbiting close to the stars in the "prime ejection zone", reports Space.com.

"Oumuamua's orbit has the highest eccentricity ever observed in an object passing through our Solar System", pointed out Jackson.

But astronomers soon discovered the foreign object was natural in origin, and believed to have originated from the star Vega.


The alien theory was eventually brushed off after researchers listening to the object found it was dead silent, but many questions about its origins still remained.

While its elongated structure is quite unusual and surprising, scientists believe that it may provide new clues about how other solar systems formed. A large percentage of the original planetesimals that were around in the early solar system was ejected into interstellar space through encounters with Jupiter. They've also determined that 'Oumuamua may have been ejected during the formation of the planets in that system.


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