An asteroid or a scout ship? What is remarkable object Oumuamua

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Too fast

On October 19, 2017, the Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii spotted a cigar-shaped object in space, a few hundred meters long. At first he was mistaken for a comet, flown in from another star system, and assigned a nomenclature number. But further observations showed that the body does not have a cloud of dust and gas (coma), which means that it is not a comet. Then they began to consider him an asteroid, slightly changed the number, and at the same time they gave the sonorous name Oumuamua, which in translation from Hawaiian means "messenger", or rather, "intelligence officer."

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Analysis of the data showed that the asteroid A / 2017 U1 is flying at a speed of 26.5 km / s, has an elongated ellipsoidal shape with a length of 180-200 m and a high reflectivity. It moves along an open hyperbolic path, rotating along its three axes, and sooner or later must leave the solar system.

But then it turned out that Oumuamua began to pick up speed, and this cannot be explained by celestial mechanics — neither by the attraction of the Sun or the planets, nor by the influence of the solar wind. Such behavior is typical of comets, but astronomers have already seen that this is not a comet. The strange trajectory of the body and its high speed could be explained except by the presence of a jet engine.

Then, from the lips of Professor Avi Loeb, dean of the faculty of astronomy at Harvard University, there was a bold version: the observed object can be part of an alien research mission. Namely – the reconnaissance probe, arrived from another star system. Or perhaps a failed spacecraft.

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Runaway from star

Most fellow astronomers, hearing the hypothesis of Avi Loeb, smiled. However, she urged them on to undertake more thorough research and get to the bottom of the truth.

“We have never seen anything like Ouamuamua asteroid in our solar system. “It's still a mystery to us,” says Matthew Knight of the University of Maryland. “The alien ship hypothesis is amusing, but our analysis indicates that there are a lot of natural factors and phenomena that can explain the phenomenon.”

A year ago, Matthew Knight assembled a team of experts in various fields of cosmology. They conducted a comprehensive analysis of information about the object A / 2017 U1 and offered several scenarios for its appearance as a result of natural processes. Article scientists published in the journal Nature.

Large azimuth telescope (BTA) on the territory of the Special Astrophysical Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

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The basic idea is that the asteroid Oumuamua was ejected from its star system. This could have happened under the influence of gravity of a very large body, such as our Jupiter or Saturn. Or because of a flash on the surface of a dying star (red giant). Or as a result of the destruction of the planet by a white dwarf.

But these are all nuances, interesting and understandable to astronomers. The fact is that an asteroid of unusual shape (this is, by the way, another mystery – the cigar-shaped form is not characteristic of these celestial bodies) escaped the attraction of the native star and set off to surf the expanses of the universe. This could have happened 45 million years ago, when dinosaurs had already become extinct and mammals began to develop the vacant ecological niches.

As for the acceleration of the object, which was observed by astronomers, then, according to the authors of the study, it is explained by the fact that volatile substances began to evaporate from the surface of the asteroid under the action of solar radiation. Their release and created jet thrust.

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Let the scientists and do not confirm the version (which was liked by many) about that Oumuamua – the ship of aliens, the uniqueness of this celestial body is beyond doubt. After all, this is the first interstellar object that has become known to science. And, most likely, not the last. The same Matthew Knight believes that in the next 10 years, thanks to the capabilities of modern telescopes, astronomers will discover several more space wanderers who have come to us from the depths of the Universe.

Who knows, maybe there will be man-made objects among them?

. (tagsToTranslate) Oumuamua asteroid (t) space

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