'Possible origin from deep interior of planetary system': Meteor that hit Earth in 2014 was interstellar

Washington, US Updated: Apr 14, 2022, 07:55 PM(IST)

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The one that made an impact on Earth on January 8, 2014, is known as CNEOS 2014-01-08 and it crash-landed along the northeast coast of Papua New Guinea 

A document released by the United States Space Command (USSC) states that researchers might have discovered the first known interstellar meteor to ever hit Earth, and it's not 'Oumuamua'. 

'Oumuamua' has been famously known to be the first interstellar object passing through the Solar System, ever recorded. It was discovered in the Solar System by Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) in 2017. 

However, researchers now claim that they have 'Oumuamua' possibly the second interstellar object known as the first one being a meteor that impacted Earth in 2014. 

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In simple language, an interstellar object is an astronomical object in interstellar space that is not gravitationally bound to a star. 

The one that made an impact on Earth on January 8, 2014, is known as CNEOS 2014-01-08 and it crash-landed along the northeast coast of Papua New Guinea. 

Last week on 6 April, the UCSS released a memo on its official Twitter handle, highlighting the crucial work of Harvard astronomers Amir Siraj and Abraham Loeb, who drafted a paper on the findings.  

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They studied the object in detail and the document noted that the velocity and trajectory of the meteor suggested the space rock was apparently from deep space, meaning the extrasolar in origin. 

The summary of the paper from student Amir Siraj and veteran astronomer Avi Loeb read: "Its high ... speed implies a possible origin from the deep interior of a planetary system or a star in the thick disk of the Milky Way galaxy." 

In the paper, the researcher wrote: "Based on the CNEOS catalog of bolide events, we identify the ∼0.45m meteor detected at 2014-01-08 17:05:34 UTC as originating from an unbound hyperbolic orbit with 99.999\% confidence." 

However, in a recent interaction with Vice, Siraj revealed that the margin of error was a reason why peer review and publication of the paper have been held up. He said that the US military had classified some of the data needed to confirm the scientists' calculations. 

"Its high LSR speed implies a possible origin from the deep interior of a planetary system or a star in the thick disk of the Milky Way galaxy," a part of the paper read. 

The paper also mentioned that this discovery will help enable a new method for studying the composition of interstellar objects. 

The new method will be based on spectroscopy of their gaseous debris as they burn up in the Earth's atmosphere. 

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