Much has been said since Oumuamua was first seen by.
Having theorized for so many years about the existence of other solar systems, the appearance of this strange object was the confirmation, it was a real event that immediately captivated the attention of the scientific world. Initially cataloged as a comet and having changed then this designation to asteroid, its appearance caused teams of scientists from around the world to join the study of this fact never before seen, it was finally cataloged as the first of a new class of “interstellar objects”, officially designated A/2017 UI by the International Astronomical Union in a category created after it was discovered.
Discovered by Robert Weryk on October 19, 2017, when a group of astronomers working with the NASA-funded Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan- STARRS1) at the University of Hawaii caught the image of an object zipping through our solar system at a very high speed. The first thing that drew attention was its long cigar shape, its reddish color, a sign that it had been exposed to radiation for millions of years and its orbit were characteristics that place it in the category of interstellar origin. Comets are an icy object that usually shed gas and as they approach the Sun and its temperature gets high, Oumuamua didn’t.
Then some scientist thought Oumuamua was a dry asteroid.
Nonetheless, a team of ESA astronomers, led by Marco Micheli, was in charge of tracking the object to, among others things, the cause of changes in its trajectory. “The gases we think are responsible for the motion are difficult to observe from the ground, especially on an object as faint as ‘Oumuamua,” Micheli wrote in an email. “They would not have been visible in the optical pictures we obtained. We also don’t see any dust in our images in the form of a coma or a tail, but if it were made of grains larger than the typical powder of our solar system comets we would not see it.”
Telescopes Hubble and Spitzer tracked Oumuamua’s trajectory as long as they could. In November, it was 124 million miles from Earth, then its trajectory took the object past Mars’ orbit and it passed Jupiter on May. It will go outside Saturn’s orbit in January 2019 and then leave our solar system bound for the Pegasus constellation.
There is still a lot to learn about this interstellar object and a limited time because in its passage through our solar system Oumuamua is fading very fast and it is also a relatively small and dark object, but we will continue analyzing the data collected by Hubble and Spitzer telescopes for the NASA waiting for them to provide more information about the formation of planetary systems.
Regarding this, Micheli said: “Unfortunately, Oumuamua is now too far from Earth to be observable so any new study will need to rely on data collected over the past few months,
However, we are ready for the next one that will confidently be discovered.”