Scientists explain the strange speed of the space object ‘Oumuamua | Sciences

In 2017, ‘Oumuamua hurtled through our solar system. The first known space object to come from another solar system has been the subject of fascination ever since, not only because of its odd, cigar-like shape, but also because Oumuamua curiously accelerated as it moved away from the sun.

Since Oumuamua’s passage, there has been widespread speculation about the origin of the tall boulder. For example, an astronomer at Harvard University suggested that it could be a probe with which aliens will explore our solar system. Others have proposed the more plausible explanation that the object was a sliver of rock ripped from another planet.

In a new study published in the Scientific Journal nature The researchers now propose that ‘Oumuamua’s acceleration is due to the release of hydrogen gas as the comet heats up in sunlight.

Pie

Oumuamua does not have the tail of gas and dust typical of many comets. The object was previously described as cigar-shaped and about 400 meters long, but is now said to be a rocky pie. The rock is smaller than originally thought and is now estimated to be about 115 meters by 111 meters, and 19 meters thick.

According to scientists, Oumuamua appears to have formed like many other comets in the form of a small planet: a small body formed in the early stages of planet formation, which is actually a large icy space rock.

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After the object for some reason jumped out of its original solar system and flew through space, the comet’s composition changed after exposure to high-energy radiation. As a result, part of the comet’s ice turned into hydrogen gas, which was trapped by the rest of the ice.

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Oumuamua then warmed as it crossed our solar system, rearranging the comet’s ice structure, releasing trapped hydrogen gas, and boosting the comet as it moved away from the sun. This process is known as “outgassing” and is not accompanied by tail formation.

An illustration of what ‘Oumuamua might look like. © via Reuters

The key discovery is that ‘Oumuamua may have started as an icy, water-rich planet much like comets in the solar system. This model could explain ‘Oumuamua’s strange behavior without recourse. to exotic physics or chemistry.

This is “the simplest explanation, and it’s exactly what we would expect for an interstellar comet,” said study co-author Daryl Seligman, a postdoctoral researcher in planetary sciences at Cornell University.

Oumuamua was first detected by the University of Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS1 telescope. “We don’t know where it came from, but it probably traveled through interstellar space for less than 100 million years,” Seligman said.

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Megan Vasquez

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