ʻOumuamua may have travelled from a binary star system

A space rock from outside the solar system had not one parent star but two

A space rock from outside the solar system had not one parent star but two

The Royal Astronomical Society in the United Kingdom announced on March 19, 2018 that the object called 1I/2017 ('Oumuamua) - the first confirmed asteroid known to have journeyed here from outside our solar system - may have come from from a binary star system, or two stars orbiting a common center of gravity. Jackson and his colleagues performed computer-modeling work, which indicated that systems with two close-orbiting stars boot out asteroids much more efficiently than one-star systems do.

Lead researcher Dr Alan Jackson, from the University of Toronto in Canada, said: 'It's remarkable that we've now seen for the first time a physical object from outside our solar system. Jackson and co-workers suggest 'Oumuamua likely was ejected early in the star system's development, during the era of planetary formation. The object is now barreling toward the outer solar system and has been too distant and faint to study even with large telescopes since mid-December, NASA officials have said. Here you go. This deep combined image shows the interstellar asteroid 'Oumuamua at the center of the picture.

The new study was published today (March 19) in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

'Oumuamua means "scout" in Hawaiian; the object was discovered by researchers using the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS), at Haleakala Observatory on the island of Maui.

At first researchers assumed it must be a comet, one of countless icy objects that release gas when it warms up as it approaches the sun.

The odd, cigar-shaped interstellar asteroid 'Oumuamua, discovered racing through Earth's solar system last October at a blistering 30 kilometres per second (67,100 mph), likely originated in a binary star system. But it didn't show any comet-like activity as it neared the sun, and was quickly reclassified as an asteroid, meaning it was rocky.

Researchers were also fairly sure it was from outside our solar system, based on its trajectory and speed.

Major questions about 'Oumuamua remain.

Bottom line: New research suggests that the 1st confirmed interstellar asteroid - called 'Oumuamua by astronomers - likely came from a system where 2 stars orbit each other.

In fact, as Jackson points out, 'Oumuamua's orbit has the highest eccentricity ever observed in an object passing through our Solar System.

"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".

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