Tuesday, 22 January, 2019

Interstellar asteroid 'Oumuamua likely originated in binary star system

Interstellar asteroid 'Oumuamua likely originated in binary star system Interstellar asteroid 'Oumuamua likely originated in binary star system
Elijah Vega | 23 March, 2018, 21:33

Study lead author Alan Jackson said: "It's remarkable that we've now seen for the first time a physical object from outside our Solar System". The study has garnered worldwide headlines.

"It's really odd that the first object we would see ... would be an asteroid, because a comet would be a lot easier to spot and the solar system ejects many more comets than asteroids".

With a radius of 200 meters and traveling at a blistering speed of 30 kilometers per second, at its closest, it was about 33,000,000 km from Earth.

That observation marked the first time scientists have caught sight of an interstellar asteroid, though researchers estimate that one of these kinds of space rocks zooms through our solar system each year.

Determined to find, once and for all, the origins of this space object, another group of astronomers has recently conducted a study trying to discover Oumuamua's origins and how its "home" system was able to expel it.

Soon, the researchers along with Alan Jackson undertook computer-modeling and simulation where they found out that Oumuamua didn't originate from a single star system but a binary system i.e. a solar system with two stars.

The Sun is a single star system, but there are many systems made up of two or more stars orbiting one another about a common focus.

That aspect ratio is greater than that of any asteroid or comet observed in our solar system to date.

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Since the end of previous year, astronomers have been left puzzled by the object dubbed "Oumuamua - the Hawaiian word for 'scout" - not only being left amiss as to whether it was a comet or asteroid, but where it could have even come from. 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.

"It has been wandering interstellar space for a long time since", the scientists wrote in the Royal Astronomical Society's journal, Monthly Notices.

Jackson and his colleagues, after determining binary star systems are very efficient ejectors of rocky bodies, concluded 'Oumuamua most likely originated in a binary system with a relatively massive component because such systems could be expected to have a larger number of asteroid-like bodies in close orbits. But this object from another star system wasn't entirely unexpected.

As a starting point, Jackson says it's important to understand that in order for an object to be ejected from a star system it needs to interact with something big.

"But we also have some idea that Jupiter-sized planets are not that common", he added.

Major questions about 'Oumuamua remain. Researchers are trying to determine how it got its cigar-like shape and from where it may have originated.

Oumuamua is formally known as 1I/2017 U1 i.e. the first interstellar object to pass our solar system.

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