Mysterious cigar-shaped interstellar asteroid experienced violent past, reveals new study

Cigar-shaped asteroid asteroid fly-by Queen's University Belfast interstellar space telescope other stars asteroid composition solar system

Oumuamua is the first known interstellar object to pass through the Solar System.

The scientists believe Oumuamua is likely to be an asteroid and not an alien space craft.

Quite a stir was created when this alien asteroid was first spotted by astronomers.

"It's hard to know if it was during planet formation or after the planet formation process", Fraser said during the show.

One of the most interesting theories about Oumuamua was that it was some kind of alien spacecraft, or maybe an extraterrestrial Whale Probe from an alien civilization, similar to the one that visited Earth in Star Trek: The Voyage Home.

The following is a statement from the university. It has likely been travelling through space for hundreds of millions of years, tumbling end over end.

Just when you thought Oumuamua couldn't surprise us anymore, astronomers have announced that the odd, cigar-shaped object that represents the first visitor from outside our solar system isn't cruising through space like a bullet-it's actually tumbling at high speed, and will continue to do so for the next few billion years.

But scientists from Queen's University Belfast took a good look at the object and said it appears to be an asteroid, or "planetesimal" as originally thought. They have been working with an global team, including Dr Petr Pravec from the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Dr Colin Snodgrass from The Open University and Igor Smolic ́from the University of Belgrade.

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Oumuamua is not spinning periodically like most small asteroids, they say, but rather tumbling - spinning chaotically - and has probably been doing so for billions of years. Instead, it tumbles, or spins chaotically, through space and could have been this way for many billions of years.

The unusual movement of 'Oumuamua also puzzles the scientists.

Dr Fraser's research has now revealed that its surface is spotty and that when the long face of the cucumber-shaped object was facing telescopes on Earth it was largely red but the rest of the body was neutral coloured, like dirty snow.

"Most of the surface reflects neutrally but one of its long faces has a large red region". This argues for broad compositional variations, which is unusual for such a small body'. They recently published their findings in the Nature Astronomy journal.

'Our results are really helping to paint a more complete picture of this unusual interstellar interloper.

The first asteroid from outside our solar system came flying towards us at 97,200mph (156,428km/h) after smashing into another cosmic body billions of years ago.

The team began by simply analysing the brightness measurements of the object, and quickly discovered that the asteroid-turned-comet-turned asteroid was tumbling chaotically unlike other objects in the solar system.

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