Interstellar object visits our solar system

Astronomers have confirmed that a cigar-shaped object which entered our solar system last month is an interstellar object.

Most objects in our solar system orbit the Sun on a relatively flat plane, but the object dropped into the system almost directly from above this plane.

It passed between the Sun and Mercury’s orbit at a speed of 158,000km/h. Called Oumuamua, it measures 800 metres long and is rotating rapidly.

The irregularity of its trajectory confirms the object did not originate from our solar system, as we did not observe any gravitational encounters which would have placed it on its hyperbolic path.

The object was first spotted by the Pan-STARRS1 automated telescope, and did not vent any particles as it passed close to the sun.

It is thought to be an asteroid comprised of an unknown material with irregular reflective properties.

The visitor has already passed within 15 million miles of Earth and is currently on its way toward the edge of the solar system.

Oumuamua trajectory
The trajectory of Oumuamua’s encounter with our solar system.

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Interstellar object visits our solar system