A mysterious object from somewhere in the galaxy is moving incredibly fast through our solar system, and NASA scientists don’t know what it is or where it came from.
It could end up being the first “interstellar object” observed by scientists, but NASA scientists said telescopes all over the world are being pointed towards the the small asteroid or comet, designated A/2017 U1. Rob Weryk, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, first spotted the object Oct. 19.
“Its motion could not be explained using either a normal solar system asteroid or comet orbit,” Wryk said in a NASA news release. “This object came from outside our solar system.”
The object came from the direction of the constellation Lyra, according to NASA. The comet or asteroid did not come close to hitting any of the eight major planets as it hurtled towards the sun. It “made a hairpin turn under our solar system, passing under Earth’s orbit on Oct. 14 at a distance of about 15 million miles (24 million kilometers) — about 60 times the distance to the Moon,” NASA said.
“It has now shot back up above the plane of the planets and, travelling at 27 miles per second (44 kilometers per second) with respect to the Sun, the object is speeding toward the constellation Pegasus,” NASA said in its release.
If scientists confirm U1 is in fact an “interstellar object,” it will be the first time scientists have observed an object they’ve long theorized existed.
“We have been waiting for this day for decades,” Paul Chodas, the manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, said in the release. “It’s long been theorized that such objects exist — asteroids or comets moving around between the stars and occasionally passing through our solar system — but this is the first such detection. So far, everything indicates this is likely an interstellar object, but more data would help to confirm it.”
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