AUG 18, 2020 1:49 PM PDT

First Visitor from Another Solar System Remains Unknown

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

An object hurtling through our solar system known as 'Oumuamua' is our first visitor from another solar system. Since its first sighting in 2017, scientists have been puzzled as to what it is. And now, they may have just ruled out a major possible explanation- only adding to its mystery. 

Earlier this year, some scientists had pointed out that Oumuamua could be a hydrogen iceberg. This would explain many things- such as why the object is shaped like a long cigar. It would also explain how it was able to power itself through distant space without any gravity, as pure hydrogen gas would have propelled it like a rocket. 

But now, a new paper from researchers at Harvard University and the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI) suggest that it is not possible Oumuamua is made of hydrogen, as it simply wouldn't have been able to survive the journey. 

"We were suspicious that hydrogen icebergs could not survive the journey – which is likely to take hundreds of millions of years – because they evaporate too quickly, and as to whether they could form in molecular clouds," says Avi Loeb, co-author of the new paper. 

Loeb and colleagues also suggest that an iceberg of this kind could not have formed through the usual process that creates similar objects. Lead author of the paper, Thiem Hoang, said, "In regions with high gas density, collisional heating by gas collisions can rapidly sublimate the hydrogen mantle on the grains, preventing them from growing further."

Although Oumuamua's nature remains a mystery, the researchers say that it is only a matter of time before its 'identity' is known. In particular, they look forward to the Vera C. Rubin Observatory switching on next year, from which they say it should be possible to sport similar objects once per month. This would then make it easier to study them in more detail and thus better understand their properties.

 

Sources: IndependentPhys

About the Author
  • Annie Lennon is a writer whose work also appears in Medical News Today, Psych Central, Psychology Today, and other outlets. When she's not writing, she is COO of Xeurix, an HR startup that assesses jobfit from gamified workplace simulations.
You May Also Like
APR 21, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Zooming Back From a Black Hole
APR 21, 2021
Zooming Back From a Black Hole
The first images ever taken of a black hole were released in April 2019. The images were captured with the Event Horizon ...
MAY 16, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Measuring the Natural Illumination in the Night Sky
MAY 16, 2021
Measuring the Natural Illumination in the Night Sky
It may get dark at night, but there's still light in the sky in even the darkest places. This low glow comes from natura ...
JUN 01, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Curiosity Captures Shimmering Martian Clouds
JUN 01, 2021
Curiosity Captures Shimmering Martian Clouds
Mars has a thin atmosphere without much humidity, making cloudy days rare. But clouds can be found sometimes near the Ma ...
AUG 10, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Researchers Confirm Exoplanet at Half the Mass of Venus
AUG 10, 2021
Researchers Confirm Exoplanet at Half the Mass of Venus
An international collaboration of researchers has identified a rocky exoplanet half the size of Venus, making it the low ...
SEP 14, 2021
Space & Astronomy
NASA is Planning to Shoot a Spacecraft Into an Asteroid
SEP 14, 2021
NASA is Planning to Shoot a Spacecraft Into an Asteroid
NASA can detect asteroids, so there's been plenty of speculation about what might happen if we discover an asteroid ...
OCT 11, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Martian Rocks Show Signs of Long-Term Water Erosion
OCT 11, 2021
Martian Rocks Show Signs of Long-Term Water Erosion
A new report in Nature has shown that water had a pivotal role in shaping the surface of Mars, just as the Perseverance ...
Loading Comments...