In October, astronomers observed an interstellar asteroid for the first time. We talked to one of the first to study it, and here’s everything they’ve learned in the months since.

SeekerPublished: July 10, 2018Updated: July 11, 2018
Published: July 10, 2018Updated: July 11, 2018

In the fall of 2017, we spotted an unexpected visitor to our solar system from deep space. We’d never seen anything like it! It came out of nowhere, was on a surprising trajectory, and it was moving fast. It wasn’t aliens, but it’s still just fantastic.

It’s not aliens, it’s an asteroid. It’s an asteroid like none we’ve ever observed before! An asteroid from another star. A piece of interstellar debris! Imagine that our solar system is a fish tank, and we’re in the middle of it.  So, we’re looking at our fish tank and trying to learn about the whole world outside of it too. Then, suddenly and without warning something gets thrown in to our tank and who knows where that thing is from? It’s completely different stuff from a whole different place! 

So here’s what we know. We know it’s not from our solar system based on its trajectory through ours. We know it’s about the size of a football field, and it’s rotating rapidly. We also know, based on its orbit, where it came from and where it is going. We know it’s got no dust coming off it, and it’s not icy, so it’s not a comet!   This video, "In October, astronomers observed an interstellar asteroid for the first time. We talked to one of the first to study it, and here’s everything they’ve learned in the months since.", first appeared on seeker.com.

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