We Think We Know Where That Interstellar Object Came From

It may have come from a relatively near planetary system. NASA/JPL-Caltech

As mentioned, this may not be the only visitor coming our way. Another paper on arXiv suggests there could be many more interstellar objects coming into our Solar System that we’ve missed before, but we might be able to spot them in future.

This paper says that when a new telescope called the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) in Chile begins an all-sky survey in 2022, we could see at least one interstellar object in our Solar System every year.

It’s hoped this may help us work out how much material is ejected from planetary systems when they form. The figure is thought to be about 20 Earth masses of material, including our own Solar System. Finding more interstellar companions could tell us a lot more about this process.

“The LSST discovery rate of ejectoids will help us constrain the frequency and properties of planetary system formation in our nearby galaxy,” the team wrote.

But wait! That’s not all. There’s a third interesting paper on Oumuamua, this one looks at its rotation rate. Using the Discovery Channel Telescope in Arizona, researchers found it was rotating at a rate of at least 5 hours, suggesting it’s quite a regular object.

“Comparison of these quantities with the properties of asteroids indigenous to our own Solar System suggests that A/2017 U1 is not unusual,” they wrote. “If not for its unique orbit, A/2017 U1 would likely be considered a mundane traveler on its sojourn past Earth.”

This object is one of the biggest recent discoveries in space, so you can bet there will be plenty more studies about it to come. And maybe, just maybe, we can expect some more interstellar visitors like it in future.

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