The mysterious, needle-shaped object 'Oumuamua, which was spotted zooming through Earth's neighborhood last October, probably originated in a two-star system, according to the study. Researchers initially thought the object was a comet, but observations showed 'Oumuamua, measuring about 230 metres long by 35 metres wide (800 feet by 100 feet), was a dense, rocky body that was tumbling chaotically.
The study found that rocky objects are more likely to have originated in binary star systems than from single star systems like the one Earth is located in.
Now, a new study-published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society-has shed light on this issue. That, plus the 400-meter-long object's high speed and odd trajectory, strongly suggested that 'Oumuamua was an asteroid, not a comet, from beyond our solar system.
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Jackson and his colleagues, after determining binary star systems are very efficient ejectors of rocky bodies, concluded 'Oumuamua most likely originated in a binary system with a relatively massive component because such systems could be expected to have a larger number of asteroid-like bodies in close orbits.
Named after the Hawaiian word for "scout", 'Oumuamua stopped by briefly in 2017 as it entered our solar system, took a quick spin around the sun, and then carried on its merry way out into the abyss beyond our reach.
The latest findings have provided researchers with valuable insights into 'Oumuamua's history, however, with billions of star systems in the Milky Way, we are no closer to identifying exactly where it came from-and perhaps we never will. Scientists were also able to determine that these start systems ejected rocky objects in comparable to the number of icy objects. Jackson said in a statement. In single star systems like our own, comets make up the vast majority of objects that are ejected because they form farther away and are less bound by the gravity of the sun. 'Oumuamua has the highest eccentrcity of any object observed passing through the solar system. That's where two stars orbit a common center.
For planetary scientists like Jackson, being able to observe objects like 'Oumuamua may yield important clues about how planet formation works in other star systems. But this object from another star system wasn't entirely unexpected. According to Jackson and his team, the asteroid was likely ejected from its system as planets formed.