WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The reddish cigar-shaped object named Oumuamua, which tumbled into space last year, is a comet, scientists said Wednesday, revealing the puzzle of how to classify the first interstellar object that penetrates our solar system ,
Astronomers said that they are investigating the trajectory of & # 39; Oumuamua, which is about half a mile long, as it rolls through our cosmic neighborhood after being somehow driven away by a distant star system.
They found that it could easily be different from a path that could be explained purely by the sun's appeal, because there appears to be a very small emission of gas from its surface that indicates a comet.
Oumuamua (pronounced oh-moo-uh-moo-uh) was originally called a comet, but it lacks the characteristic gas and dust tail of many comets, and some scientists argued that it may be a dry asteroid.
"There is no tail in any observation we have received," said astronomer Marco Micheli of the SSA-NEO European Space Agency Coordination Center in Italy, who led the study, in the journal Nature
ours Analysis shows that the amount of emitted gas needed to generate this extra force was so small that it is invisible in our observations, "he said in an email.
This "extra force" affects the trajectory of object b Only about 0.1 percent of the gravitational attraction of the sun.
Oumuamua was first discovered last October by the Pan-STARRS1 University of Hawaii Telescope. His name in the native Hawaiian language refers to a far-away messenger.
He used to hurl past the Sun and travel out of the Solar System towards the constellation Pegasus at about 196,000 miles per hour. "Oumuamua was about as far from the Sun as Jupiter last month.
Astronomers suspect that more visitors to other star systems are being discovered by our solar system."
"The discovery of 'Oumuamua is an absolute first on the field, and it gave us the first opportunity to study an object that comes from another star and planetary system," said Micheli. "The existence of these objects was expected, but to see one for the first time and to study it in detail is a unique opportunity to learn more about these distant systems and their origins."