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Big news coming out of NASA, where a telescope out of Hawaii, called the Pan-STARRS 1 has picked up something strange flying through our solar system, and it has astronomers both amateur and professional geeking right out at the possibilities.
An interstellar asteroid will be in our solar system, scientists figure, until 2019. It was first observed traveling towards our solar system, and many astronomers believed they were on the verge of identifying a new comet. But to their great surprise, this long distance traveler, cruising at around 85,700 miles per hour, was actually entering our atmosphere on its cosmic tour.
In a statement released to the media, University of Hawaii’s Institute of Astronomy leader Karen meech stated, “What we found was a rapidly rotating object at least the size of a football field that changed in brightness quite dramatically.” The asteroid resembles the shape of a cigar and spins on its own axis every 7.3 hours. Astronomers say it’s hue is similar to what they’ve seen from previous asteroids found in the Kuiper Belt, on the outside of our solar system.
The asteroid has been officially designated at A/2017 UI by the International Astronomical Union. But since the object was found by Hawaiian astronomers, they’ve given it the name: ‘Oumuamua’ which means, “a messenger that reaches out from the distant past”. Oumuamua is believed to have traveled from the constellation of Lyra. But at its current speed, that would have taken over 300,000 years to travel to this point in our solar system. Astronomers say it’s more likely that it’s from our own Milky Way, just not discovered. Oumuamua is currently 124-million miles from Earth, and is currently travelling between Mars and Jupiter. Now that astronomers know what to look for in terms of signal, there’s a greater chance more objects, like this asteroid, could be found in the future.