General, Research, Technology

Asteroid Oumuamua is definitely not an alien ship. And that's why

Imagine that recently our solar systemvisited by aliens. This visit was cleverly disguised and carefully planned, since few people would come up with the idea that an interstellar asteroid (as earthlings will definitely see it) is in fact an alien spaceship. But the irreparable did happen and a famous scientist from a respected university revealed the "conspiracy" of aliens, calling things by their proper names. Sounds good, right? It is possible (according to the theory of the Multiverse) that in one of the many worlds the mysterious asteroid Oumuamua really turned out to be alien technology. But in our Universe (so far the only known one), this space wanderer, as researchers from the University of Arizona recently found out, is most likely a fragment of a planet resembling Pluto, originally from another solar system. So we suggest leaving the stories about the little green men to science fiction writers (and Netflix writers, of course).

The mysterious object Oumuamua with unusual properties invaded our solar system in 2017.

Interstellar wanderer

In 2017, it burst into our solar systema strange object called Oumuamua, which means "messenger" in Hawaiian. It was discovered using the Pan-STARRS Astronomical Observatory in Hawaii. The object looked like a comet, but with a number of strange features that defied classification.

Recently, astrophysicist from the University of Arizona Stephen Dash and Alan Jackson from the School of Earth and Space Studies tried to explain the strange features of Oumuamua and determined that it is most likely a wreck of a Pluto-like planet, originally from another solar system. The results were published in two articles in the AGU Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets (article 1, article 2).

See also: Mysterious alien Oumuamua may turn out to be a space iceberg

From Object Observation Dash and Jacksonidentified several characteristics that distinguished Oumuamua from a comet or an asteroid. Thus, the object entered the solar system at a low speed, which indicates its long journey through interstellar space. Researchers believe it lasted over a billion years or so. Overall, Oumuamua was very similar to a comet, but unlike any that had ever been seen in the solar system.

If Oumuamua were an alien ship, it would look something like this.

Having carefully studied both new and existingdata, astronomers suggested that this mysterious object consists of various ices, and calculated how quickly these ices will sublimate (passing from solid to gas) when Oumuamua passes the Sun. They then calculated the rate of distance from the Sun, the mass and shape of the object, and the reflectivity of the ice.

Dash and Jackson found, in particular, a solidnitrogen - it ensured an exact match of all characteristics of the object at the same time. And since solid nitrogen ice can be seen on Pluto's surface, it's possible that a comet-like object could be made of the same material. This is because ice of nitrogen does not evaporate as much when traveling in interstellar space.

Scientists believe Oumuamua is a belt objectKuiper is another star that is made of nitrogen ice and was ejected from its young star system in the Perseus arm about 500 million years ago.

Oumumua's possible origin story looks likeso: Origin in the parent system about 0.4 billion years ago; erosion by cosmic rays while traveling to the solar system; passage through the solar system, including the object's closest approach to the Sun on September 9, 2017, and its discovery in October 2017.

Then they calculated the speed at which the piecessolid nitrogen ice would have been knocked off the surface of Pluto and similar bodies early in the formation of our solar system. And they also calculated the likelihood that chunks of solid nitrogen ice from other solar systems would reach ours.

“He was probably knocked off the surface by a blow abouthalf a billion years ago and thrown out of their parental system, ”the researchers write. “The fact that it is made from frozen nitrogen also explains its unusual cigar shape. As the outer layers of nitrogen ice evaporated, Oumuamua's shape became more and more flattened. "

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Why is Oumuamua not an alien ship?

Although Oumuamua's comet-like nature was quicklyadmittedly, the failure to immediately explain it in detail has led to speculation that Oumuamua is part of alien technology, as in Harvard professor Avi Loeb's recently published book, Extraterrestrial: Early Signs of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth. I told you more about this story here.

Loeb's statements prompted a publicdiscussions about the scientific method and the responsibility of scientists not to jump to conclusions. “Everyone is interested in aliens, and it was inevitable that the first object from another solar system would lead people to think about aliens. But in science, it's important not to jump to conclusions. It took two or three years to find a natural explanation, ”the study authors write.

An interstellar object in our solar system.

Note that today there are noevidence that Oumuamua is an alien technology. Meanwhile, as more and more such objects are discovered and studied, scientists will expand our understanding of what other planetary systems are like and how they differ from ours.

The new study is interesting because nowone can reasonably identify Oumuamua as "Exopluton." Dash and Jackson hope that future telescopes - we've also prepared some interesting material about them - will be able to detect even more unique interstellar objects.