The discovery in October 2017 of a bizarre, cigar-shaped object hurtling through our Solar System set imaginations racing. Was it an asteroid? a comet? or an alien spaceship, ssent here on a reconnaissance mission? Named 'Oumuamua', it joined a select group of cosmic enigmas and celestial odditied that have astronomers scratching their heads...
Artist’s impression of ‘Oumuamua. credits: Gettyimages. The pages of sci-fi books are full of alien interlopers secretly entering the Solar System to snoop on humanity as we emerge as a technologically capable race. So it’s no surprise that excitement started to build when, on 19 October 2017, the astronomer Dr Robert Weryk spotted an object whizzing through the Solar System while using the Pan-STARRS telescope at Haleakalā Observatory, Hawaii.
Dubbed ‘Oumuamua (after the Hawaiian for ‘scout’), this object is extremely elongated, possibly up to a kilometre long but not more than 167 metres wide, making it look like a space cucumber. It’s travelling so fast that there’s no way it can be gravitationally bound by the Sun. The only conclusion is it’s an interloper that formed outside our Solar System and subsequently trekked all the way here.
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