Photo by Felix Wegerer / Unsplash
Photo by Felix Wegerer / Unsplash

Out in the depths of space; out among the comets, asteroids, moons, planets, stars, galaxies, and maybe even universes: something lurks. That something is now with us.

Meet Oumuamua. In the Hawaiian language the word means “scout”. This is an artist’s visualization of the first interstellar visitor to pass through our Solar System.

Artist's impression of ʻOumuamua
Original: ESO/M. Kornmesser Derivative: nagualdesign / CC BY-SA

What Is It?

What is an interstellar object? And is it really the first such object that we have ever seen here on our little blue ball of water? An interstellar object is anything that travels between stars. This particular chunk of rock is literally too fast for our Sun to capture in it’s orbit. But, as the saying goes, always read the fine print. This is the first such known visitor to our Solar System. Which implies that perhaps it’s not really the first.

Food for Thought

  • A cool presentation by NASA's JPL .
  • The Royal Astronomical Society believes that Oumuamua most likely came from a binary star system.
  • Astronomer Wesley Fraser thinks that this particular asteroid didn’t glide smoothly through space. Instead, he believes that it’s actually tumbling and flipping it’s way through space.

That’s a Wrap!

So, this is a rather interesting traveler, isn’t it? Let’s not dive deeper yet. It’s hard enough to get a handle on what this thing may be, even with just a few such ideas, much less any other theories we dream up.