Science & Space

7 Strange and amazing Facts about Interstellar Visitor "Oumuamua" & How space can mend relationship between countries

A unique-looking interstellar object which was not born in our solar system visited us in 2017. The visitor was shaped like a cigar with brown awe and was first identified as an Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (UAP). The US previously thought the object originated from Russia or China, later it was identified as an object not human in origin. Its origin was and is unknown to the world some speculations are there about the origin of this object. Some say it might originate from a dead star or a dead planet. 

What was that alien object? And We will point out some important facts about it for scientific purposes. 

(credit: VICTOR HABBICK VISIONS via Getty image)       
⇔  The name of the object is "Oumuamua". It was formally designated as "1I/2017 U1". Oumuamua was first discovered and observed by Robert Weryk on October 19, 2017. Weryk used the University of Hawaii's Pan-STARRS telescope, funded by NASA's "Near Earth Object Observations". When it was first observed, it was 33 million (21 million mi, 0.22AU)km away from the sun and it was already moving away from the sun.

⇔Oumuamua was originally classified as a comet, but observations revealed no signs of cometary activity after it slingshotted past the Sun on Sept. 9, 2017, at a blistering speed of 196,000 miles per hour (87.3 kilometers per second). 

⇔  The naming of Oumuamua is a unique case for the International Astronomical Union. It was first identified as a comet that's why its previous name was comet C/2017 U1, it was later identified as asteroid A/2017 U1. Once it was unambiguously detected as an object coming from outside of our solar system then a new name was given, 1I/2017 U1. A formal name Oumuamua was given, the name draws its origin from a Hawaiian scout and reflects the way the object is like a scout or messenger sent from the distant past to reach out to humanity. Oumuamua roughly translated to “a messenger from afar arriving first”.

⇔ Initial observation suggests that Oumuamua is an object that had been wandering through the milky way for millions of years before it encountered our solar system. Oumuamua is like a buoy sitting at rest on the surface of the ocean, with the solar system running into it like a fast ship. Could there be a system of buoys establishing the typical galactic frame of reference in interstellar space, acting as a network of relay stations or road posts?

⇔  Immediately after its discovery, Telescopes around the world came into action to take a glimpse of that alien object that was visiting our solar system. ESO's Very large telescope in Chile also came into action to measure the object's orbit, brightness, and color. Combining the image from FORS (Focal Reducer and Low dispersion Spectrograph) instrument on the ESO telescope using four different filters with those of other large telescopes, a team of astronomers found out that "Oumuamua varies in brightness by a factor of 10 as it spins on its axis every 7.3 hours. Comet or asteroid from our solar system or any other solar system never ever varies so widely in brightness. The unusual object is peculiarly long in comparison with its width. Oumuamua is a small object estimated to be between 100 to 1000 meters, with its width and thickness both estimated between 35 to 167 meters. 

⇔ The existence of Oumuamua gave birth to wild speculations among some astronomers. According to them Oumuamua could be a product of Alian technology or might be the spaceship in the form of a large stone boulder, but no substantial evidence was found to support their wild hypothesis. In 2022, some astronomers and researchers proposed "Project Lyra" to do prolonged research on interstellar objects like Oumuamua and 2I/Borisov. Under Project, Lyra scientists want to send a spacecraft to Oumuamua to catch that object in 26 years for further close-up studies.  

⇔ Its origin might be the distant solar system Vega. It would have taken Oumuamua 6,00,000 years to reach our solar system from Vega. It is mear speculation by some groups of scientists and astronomers. Astronomers calculated that one hundred years ago the object was approximately 84 billion km away with respect to the solar system. This interstellar speed is very close to the mean motion of material in the Milky Way in the neighborhood of the Sun, also known as the Local Standard of Rest (LSR). It might have originated from a minion star or exo-planet, planets like Pluto on another solar system, or any stray planet wandering in the Milky Way without any star. 

There are billions of stellar objects in our milky way. Our own Kuiper belt is full of different-sized and shaped objects, they might have originated on other solar systems and came to ours. Oumuamua is not the only Interstellar object the solar system ever encountered, After its arrival, another one appeared in the sky and was observed by Crimean amateur astronomers and telescope maker Gennady Borisov on 29th August 2019. It has been named after Borisov by International Astronomical Union, sometimes it is known as "Comet Borisov". 

One thing is clear one country can't analyze these interstellar objects on its own they always need others' help. That's why we are seeing cooperation and partnership between countries to explore the sky in a very efficient way. The most common way to achieve any goal is to cooperate and share data among themselves. The recent successful endeavor we witnessed in the case of the James Webb Space Telescope. James Webb has developed by scientists and astronomers from 14 countries. This massive cooperation has made this space telescope successful to explore the origin of our universe. If all countries could form a group to make "Project Lucy" a reality then the world might be able to know about the genuine concept of Exo-planets for which NASA and ESO send expensive satellites and space telescopes in the sky.