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Oumuamua: First-ever interstellar visitor likely came from a two-star system

Oumuamua: First-ever interstellar visitor likely came from a two-star system

"It's remarkable that we've now seen for the first time a physical object from outside our Solar System", says lead author Dr Alan Jackson, a postdoc at the Centre for Planetary Sciences at the University of Toronto Scarborough in Ontario, Canada. The study has garnered global headlines.

In the case of 'Oumuamua, its asteroid-like characteristics are not like any other space objects on the solar system. It was discovered to have a radius of 200 meters (656 feet) and be traveling at a speed of 30 kilometers per second (18.6 miles per second.) At its closest distance to Earth it was about 33,000,000 km (20,500,000 miles) away.

That observation marked the first time scientists have caught sight of an interstellar asteroid, though researchers estimate that one of these kinds of space rocks zooms through our solar system each year. Jackson's team examined how efficient a binary star is at ejecting objects and correlated this with the number of binaries in the Galaxy.

Binary systems, however, are more likely to have larger asteroid belts and be more efficient at ejecting material.

According to a study conducted by Fabo Feng, an astronomer from the University of Hertfordshire, Oumuamua would come from a group of stars belonging to the Pleiades but scientists don't know much about that group.

The mysterious object is now speeding towards the outer edge of our solar system and is already too small and faint to be seen by NASA's telescopes.

It was discovered by Robert Weryk using Pan-STARRS at Haleakala Observatory on Maui Island, Hawaii on October 19, 2017.

Based on its trajectory and speed, the 1,300-foot-long object was clearly not a local.

The new study is published in the peer-reviewed journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Now, scientists believe that collision likely occurred in a binary star system, which features two stars orbiting one another. For planetary scientists like Jackson, being able to observe objects like these may yield important clues about how planet formation works in other star systems. He added that it was odd because the solar system ejects more comets than asteroids.

Past research has found that only three to 10 per cent of star systems contain Jupiter-sized planets. The team's computer simulations suggest that up to 36% of binary stars can eject asteroids.

Research on Oumuamua will continue, notes the release, as several questions about it are still unanswered. Since then, researchers have determined that it is blasting through space at 30km/s. It likely came from a very alien place.

Jackson said its orbit has the highest eccentricity ever observed for a foreign object passing through our Solar System.

Per the researchers, similar to how comets help us understand the planet formation in our solar system, such objects originating from distant solar system helps us understand their formation system which is a great achievement.

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