Ever since ‘Oumuamua was discovered in 2017, we’ve struggled to understand its identity. What is it? Where did it come from? A new study may finally bring answers to all these questions.
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In October of 2017, ‘Oumuamua, which simply translated means ‘scout’ in Hawaiian, paid a visit to our solar system, and when the mysterious interstellar visitor passed by our Sun, it brought more questions than answers.
A brand new study might finally hold the answers to all the questions surrounding ‘Oumuamua’s existence. The team that published this proposed hypothesis for ‘Oumuamua’s origin story might be able to explain everything about it that has mystified us for the past three years.
The study, published in the journal Nature Astronomy, is the first to propose a comprehensive origin story for the interstellar object. It suggests ‘Oumuamua was once part of a planet that got too close to its host star and was ripped to shreds by the tidal forces from said star in a process called tidal fragmentation.
Find out more about how the scientists tested out this idea with simulations in this Elements.
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Scientists Suggest New Origin Story for ‘Oumuamua, Our Solar System’s First Interstellar Visitor
“These features made ‘Oumuamua difficult to categorize, and its origin even tougher to pinpoint, … So Zhang and her colleagues attempted to retrace the mysterious object’s path through space and time with a series of computer simulations until they finally found one that fit.”
The Age of Interstellar Visitors
“To me, the arrival of these planetary pieces formed at another star tells us that we are in the heart of a revolution — a change in viewpoints, begun hundreds of years ago, that continues to shift our perspective on our own home, our own planetary system.”
The story of ‘Oumuamua, the first visitor from another star system
“In October 2017, astrobiologist Karen J. Meech got the call every astronomer waits for: NASA had spotted the very first visitor from another star system.
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