We might have found our first confirmed alien visitor. An interstellar guest named Oumuamua has reached our solar system. The Asteroid was first found passing through our solar system, as a flash of light, in October this year. Researchers have said that the cigar-shaped celestial body is unlike asteroids that are seen in our solar system. This is the first time we have seen an asteroid that belongs to another solar system. Asteroids are not a rare sight for humans. They are usually visible to the naked eye as well. Lots of them fly around in the asteroid belt, but once in the while one of them get flung out and strike the Earth. But never before have humans seen a rock that has arrived from outside our solar system.
Scientists believe that Oumuamua may not be an alien life, but the rock’s sightings could reveal major details about other parts of the universe. The strange and exciting asteroid could provide some answers on how planets in our solar system may have formed. When it comes to the Oumuamua, it is a dense red astroid, devoid of water or dust. Researchers believe that the red colour may be because of cosmic rays that the rock has endured for millions of years. But the most strange fact about the rock is that it is elongated in shape, instead of the usual round asteroids. This was found when scientists saw changes in brightness when it spins. No known asteroid or comet from our solar system varies so widely in brightness, with such a large ratio between length and width.
Immediately after its discovery, telescopes around the world, including ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile and other observatories around the world including the Gemini Observatory were called into action to measure the object’s orbit, brightness and colour. A few large ground-based telescopes continue to track the asteroid, though it is rapidly fading as it recedes from our planet.
“This thing is an oddball,” said Karen Meech of the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy who leads an international team studying this interstellar interloper. Meanwhile, Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington said, “For decades we’ve theorised that such interstellar objects are out there, and now – for the first time – we have direct evidence they exist.”
The object passed Mars’s orbit around November 1 and will pass Jupiter’s orbit in May of 2018. It will travel beyond Saturn’s orbit in January 2019 and as it leaves our solar system.