A handout photo released by the European Space Agency on June 27, 2018 shows an artist's impression of the first interstellar object discovered in the Solar System, `Oumuamua. Photograph:( AFP )
When it was first spotted, many researchers posited that the object was an alien spaceship
A space object which has eluded scientists since it passed through Earth in 2017 is now back in the limelight for its disputed origins. Called “Oumuamua”, the object has been pitched as a lot of things - an alien spaceship, an exploit from a different galaxy, or just a mere rock.
Its name translates into “messenger” from Hawaiian, and there is strong evidence to suggest that the object came from outside our planetary system. When it was first spotted, many researchers including Harvard University’s Avi Loeb posited that the object was an alien spaceship.
Many others suggested that it was an asteroid or a comet.
New findings published in the American Geophysical Union journal now suggest a new theory - that the object is a piece of another planet, that too from a different solar system.
Steven Desch, an astrophysicist at Arizona State University, in a press release said that they have “resolved the mystery” of Oumuamua, calling it a chunk of an “exo-Pluto” - essentially a Pluto-like planet in a different solar system.
The researchers believe that about half a billion years ago, Oumuamua's parent planet was hit by an object, which sent it hurling towards our solar system. They added that this piece of the planet must have entered our solar system in 1995, which we likely missed. Over time, it lost 95 per cent of its mass and became its current size.
The existence of Oumuamua was confirmed in 2017, but it was already spacing away from Earth at really high speeds. Owing to this, scientists only had a little to study the object. Now, Oumuamua is too far away and too dim to be observed for further study.