A team of researchers have found that Oumuamua, the interstellar visitor shaped like a cigar, had a very colorful and violent history.
Her name is Oumuamua, but she is better known to the public as the “space cigar” after becoming the first observed extraterrestrial visitor to our solar system. And scientists are shedding new light on this fascinating object, including that a violent collision sent Oumuamua tumbling through outer space.
Oumuamua, Hawaiian for “scout” or “Messenger,” first appeared in our neck of the woods back in October, and caused quite a stir when we realized this chunk of ice shaped like a cigar came from worlds far away. A research team from Queen’s University in Belfast believes that Oumuamua is actually tumbling and is in a strange state of rotation, probably due to a violent collision with some other object.
It is not quite clear what the nature of this collision was, but it probably happened before Oumuamua left its home system and headed in our direction. It could have been during planet formation, or after – scientists are really not sure. But one thing is for sure: Oumuamua sure has an interesting history.
“The first ever interstellar visitor to our solar system has had a violent past which is causing it to tumble around chaotically, a Queen’s University Belfast scientist has discovered,” reads a statement from the university. “`Oumuamua flew through our solar system in October and was originally thought to be a comet, then it was later revealed as a cucumber-shaped asteroid. Since October, Dr Wes Fraser, alongside Dr Pedro Lacerda, Dr Michele Bannister, and Professor Alan Fitzsimmons, all from Queen’s University Belfast’s School of Mathematics and Physics, have been analysing the brightness measurements of the object. They have been working with an international team, including Dr Petr Pravec from the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Dr Colin Snodgrass from The Open University and Igor Smolic ́from the University of Belgrade.”