'Oumuamua came from a two-star system, astronomers find

Oumuamua binary system origins teased in latest interstellar object study

Oumuamua binary system origins teased in latest interstellar object study

Lead author Dr. Alan Jackson say that it is odd that the first interstellar object that was observed was an asteroid because it would be easier to spot than a comet. The study has garnered global headlines.

That's the latest from astronomers who were amazed by the mysterious cigar-shaped object, detected as it passed through our inner solar system last fall.

With a radius of 200 meters [656 feet] and traveling at a blistering speed of 30 km (20 miles) per second, at its closest it was about 33 million km [21 million miles] from Earth.

That observation marked the first time scientists have caught sight of an interstellar asteroid, though researchers estimate that one of these kinds of space rocks zooms through our solar system each year. They were also able to determine that rocky objects are ejected from binary systems in comparable numbers to icy objects (like comets).

The asteroid was likely ejected from its binary system during the stars' planetary formation period.

The Sun is a single star system, but there are many systems made up of two or more stars orbiting one another about a common focus.

Scientists recent suggestion that 'Oumuamua hails from a two-star system is based on planetary models. But it didn't show any comet-like activity as it neared the sun, and was quickly reclassified as an asteroid, meaning it was rocky.

'Oumuamua means "scout" in Hawaiian; the object was discovered by researchers using the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS), at Haleakala Observatory on the island of Maui.

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In this context, the researchers deduced that more than 75% of the asteroids from outside our Solar System are coming from such binary systems. But this object from another star system wasn't entirely unexpected.

The new study also suggests that the composition of the asteroid may indicate it came from a binary system with a "relatively hot, high-mass star" because those kinds of stars would have more rocky material near them, according to the statement.

"Comets can be thrown out of our solar system by interacting with Jupiter, which is a big object, but we also have some idea that Jupiter-sized planets are not that common", he says.

But astronomers soon discovered the foreign object was natural in origin, and believed to have originated from the star Vega.

Though much of 'Oumuamua remains a mystery (researchers are working to determine how it got its elongated shape and where it originated), being able to observe masses like this may provide important clues about the universe.

Back in February, a team from Queen's University Belfast helped piece together the puzzle that was its orbit, the most eccentric ever observed by an object travelling through our solar system.

It's remarkable that we've now seen for the first time a physical object from outside our solar system.

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