The Mystery of Our First Interstellar Visitor Just Got More Complicated

New analysis shows that ‘Oumuamua is neither a comet nor an asteroid. What is it then?


Just over a year ago, on October 19, 2017 astronomers saw an object from interstellar space flying through our solar system for the first time. It was dubbed ‘Oumuamua -- Hawaiian for “scout” -- and almost as suddenly as it had appeared, it was out of sight again. Based on what scientists saw, they concluded it was an asteroid. Now though, they’re not so sure.

‘Oumuamua shot past us at almost 88 kilometers per second. That sort of speed couldn’t have come from the sun’s gravity alone, so it must have been fired at us from somewhere beyond.We also know it’s shape, size and color. It’s likely very elongated, like a stubby cigar, and it’s tumbling through space.  We also know it’s about 400 to 800 meters long and stained dark red, possibly from it’s interstellar journey.

Everything else about ‘Oumuamua is basically a question mark. We still don’t know exactly where it came from, but new research just narrowed down new candidates as ‘Oumuamua’s potential home.