1st interstellar asteroid is a spinning space cigar

By Ian O'Neill
November 24, 2017, 7:09:49 AM EST

Share this article:

asteroid

This artist’s illustration shows the first interstellar asteroid, ‘Oumuamua. This unique object was discovered on Oct. 19, 2017 by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii. Subsequent observations from ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile and other observatories around the world show that ‘Oumuamua seems to be a dark red highly elongated metallic or rocky object, about 1,300 feet (400 meters) long, and is unlike anything normally found in the solar system. Credit: M. Kornmesser/ESO


When astronomers using the Pan-STARRS1 telescope in Hawaii spotted a mysterious object dashing through our solar system on Oct. 19, they immediately knew it was something special.

Traveling at high speed and originating from interstellar space, this object was originally thought to be an ancient comet, but observations revealed it was, in fact, an asteroid from another star system.

"For decades we’ve theorized that such interstellar objects are out there, and now — for the first time — we have direct evidence they exist," Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington, D.C., said in a statement.

"This history-making discovery is opening a new window to study formation of solar systems beyond our own," he added.

Report a Typo

Continue Reading on SPACE.com >

More Weather News