On October 19, 2017 an object was discovered traveling through space at an incredible speed of 85,000 mph. Based on its orbit and speed it was determined this asteroid like object came from another star system! This visitor will not return! It was discovered by Hawaii’s Pan-STARRPI telescope. It was named Oumuamua (oh Moo-uh Moo-uh). The name means “a messenger from afar arriving first”. It came from the area in space near Vega in the constellation of Lyra, but when this interstellar object passed through that area in space, Vega was not there. Oumuamua will head towards the constellation of Pegasus.
Oumuamua has a very unusual shape and is unlike any object observed before. The ratio of its length to width is 10 to 1. In our solar system we have objects with a 3 to 1 ratio. The 1/4 mile long visitor seems very dense and rotates at 7.3 hours. It appears reddish from millions of years exposure to cosmic radiation. It is estimated we may get such visitors every year but this is the first discovered.
NASA has been undergoing searches to find asteroids and comets that may be a threat to Earth. It is during this cataloging of objects Oumuamua was discovered. It may have been ejected from a forming star. Our own star probably sent its own armada of asteroids during its early formation. I look forward to the next discoveries of traveling nomads from star systems far, far away! (Images courtesy of Gene Zajac)