Strange Space Object Likely Comes From Another Solar System, New Study Finds
“This research is exciting in that we have probably solved the mystery of what Oumuamua is and can reasonably identify it as a piece of an” exo-Pluto “, a Pluto-like planet in another solar system. “said Steven, an ASU astrophysicist. Desch, said in a Press release. “Until now, we had no way of knowing if other solar systems had Pluto-like planets, but now we’ve seen some of them pass through Earth.”
Desch mentioned that some viewed Oumuamua as something from aliens, but said it could have been the result of an inability to “immediately explain it in detail.”
“Everyone is interested in aliens, and it was inevitable that this first object outside the solar system would make you think of aliens,” Desch said. “But it’s important in science not to jump to conclusions. It took two or three years to find a natural explanation – a piece of nitrogen ice – that matches everything we know about Oumuamua. not long in science, and far too soon to say that we had exhausted all natural explanations. “
Rather than aliens, Desch’s study with fellow ASU researcher and astronomer Alan Jackson posits that Oumuamua is actually a solidified lump of nitrogen. The reason the pair conclude that the object probably originated from a Pluto-like planet is that Pluto’s surface is also made up of solidified nitrogen.
Jackson said she was probably thrown from a planet’s surface around half a billion years ago, when she was thrown out of her solar system. Floating in space at nearly 200,000 mph, it has finally arrived in our solar system.
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“Oumuamua was probably not flat when it entered our solar system, but melted into a shard, losing more than 95% of its mass, on its close encounter with the Sun,” Jackson said in the Press release.
The interstellar object passed through Earth as a bizarre cigar-shaped object, but it probably looked more like a comet when it first left its point of origin. Jackson said the outer layers of solid nitrogen evaporate as it floats in space, especially as it experiences heat from our Sun, which led to its flattened shape. They likened this loss of nitrogen layers to how a bar of soap slowly flattens out over time.
The duo theorized several types of ice for the object, but studies revealed it must be nitrogen.
“We knew we had come up with the right idea when we finished calculating what albedo (which is the proportion of incident light or radiation reflected from a surface) would match Oumuamua’s motion to the observations,” Jackson said. . “This value appeared to be the same as that which we observe on the surface of Pluto or Triton, bodies covered with nitrogen ice.”
NASA said in 2018 that Oumuamua is “the first object ever seen in our solar system which we know to originate elsewhere”. Desch and Jackson said that as more interstellar objects like Oumuamua are discovered, scientists like them can continue to learn more about what lies beyond our solar system.
“It is hoped that in a decade or so, we can acquire statistics on the types of objects that pass through the solar system and whether nitrogen ice chunks are rare or as common as we have calculated,” Jackson said. . “Either way, we should be able to learn a lot about other solar systems and whether they have suffered the same types of collision stories as ours.”
For more science, read about these possible life signs detected on Venus, then find out how a galactic federation of aliens might already be in contact with the US and Israeli governments. Check out this story on a study which claims that extraterrestrial civilizations have destroyed themselves by progress after that.
Wesley LeBlanc is a freelance news writer and guidebook maker for IGN. You can follow it on Twitter @LeBlancWes.