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Interstellar object Oumuamua

Date: 04 June 2020 Tags: Space

Issue

A rocky, elongated body sort of shaped like a cosmic cigar visited our Solar System from beyond the realms of the Sun, the first ever recorded interstellar object to cruise through our part of the galaxy.

 

Background

The object was named Oumuamua, which means "A messenger from afar arriving first" in Hawaiian.

 

Details

  • Oumuamua was originally classified as a comet, but later observations showed no cometary activity as it lacks the telltale coma, or envelope surrounding a comet’s core, and tail of gas and dust. It also has a dry surface more akin to that of rocky asteroids.

  • However, it also could not be an asteroid given its acceleration as it sped by the Sun. Oumuamua slingshotted past the Sun at a speed of 196,000 miles per hour, which is too fast to be explained by the pull of the Sun's gravity alone.

  • Oumuamua is also highly elongated, believed to stretch across 900 feet in its longest dimension. The new study sought out a strange cosmic tale to explain an equally strange cosmic being.

  • The study suggests that Oumuamua is composed of a giant block of hydrogen ice that was spawned from a massive molecular cloud.

  • These clouds act as giant stellar nurseries, stretching across hundreds of light years, with enough dense gas and dust within them to birth thousands of stars.

  • Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, making up about 75% of all normal matter and fuelling the formation of new stars. However, it is rarely observed in solid form.

  • For hydrogen to solidify, it would need extremely cold temperatures. Hydrogen ice blocks like Oumuamua could form in the icy cores of molecular clouds, and there could be a lot more of them out there.

  • If this theory holds true, then Oumuamua is not only the first interstellar object observed by scientists, it would also be the first hydrogen iceberg that they have seen flinging through space.

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