Scientists have uncovered the truth about a mysterious space rock called Oumuamua which has been hurtling through Earth’s solar system and was spotted last year.
A group of acclaimed astronomers, including members from NASA, the European Space Agency and the German Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, released a report this week on the origins of the cigar-shaped asteroid which was first observed in October 2017.
The name Oumuamua is Hawaiian for “messenger from afar arriving first” and was named by the site who first spotted it.
According to the report, “a fast moving object on an unbound orbit was discovered close to the Earth” by a high-powered telescope, located in Hawaii.
The report claims Oumuamua is a metallic or rocky object, approximately 400 metres in length and about 40 metres wide.
It has a “comet-like density” and a dark red surface.
“(The red surface suggests) either an organic-rich surface like that of comets and outer solar system asteroids, or a surface containing minerals with nanoscale iron, such as the dark side of Saturn’s moon Iapetus,” the report said.
The report suggested Oumuamua left its home millions of years ago and was likely sent on its lonely journey when it was “ejected during planet formation and migration” and has been linked to four possible star systems.
It was also calculated that Oumuamua moved faster than the existing laws of celestial mechanics.
The report has been accepted into The Astrophysical Journal.
The discovery of Oumuamua sparked international debate when it was first discovered, as scientists struggled to explain what exactly the long, thin asteroid was and why it was flying so close to Earth.
The discovery even prompted suggestions that the rock was actually an alien spaceship or probe, used to explore our solar system.
But one fact has remained uncontended: Oumuamua is the first object ever observed travelling into our solar system from deep space.
The report found that Oumuamua is likely “one of many” interstellar objects that pass through Earth’s solar system on a regular basis.