Scientists believe they have just spotted, for the first time, an object speeding through our solar system that came from a different star system.
Scientists have spotted something very weird zooming into our solar system, and now they think it’s something rather extraordinary indeed. An asteroid that is about 400 meters wide and traveling at 27 miles per second appears to have come from a different star system than our own, which would be the first time scientists have ever seen anything like it.
Postdoctoral researcher Rob Weryk of the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy first spotted the object Oct. 19, noticing a small, bright object that was speeding through the night sky. He tried to identify it from the archives of the Pan-STARRS telescope, but realized it was traveling on a path that is totally different than most asteroids.
Instead of orbiting the sun like every other cosmic body in our solar system, including the asteroids and comets, it approached the solar system from above and scientists think it came from the constellation Lyra. After coming within 15 million miles of Earth and then swinging around the sun, it’s now headed for the Pegasus constellation.
“This is the most extreme orbit I have ever seen,” said Davide Farnocchia, a scientist at NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “It is going extremely fast and on such a trajectory that we can say with confidence that this object is on its way out of the solar system and not coming back.”