Mystery of our first interstellar visitor may be solved

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Source: The post is based on the article “Mystery of our first interstellar visitor may be solved” published in Indian Express on 24th March 2023

What is the News?

Astronomers have solved the mystery behind Oumuamua.

What is Oumuamua?

Oumuamua is a comet. It is the first interstellar object found visiting our solar system.

It was first detected by the University of Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS1 telescope.

What did this study find about Oumuamua?

In 2018, a study suggested that ​​Oumuamua may have been an alien probe due to its unexpected behaviour such as 1) its curious acceleration as it hurtled away from the sun and 2) It lacks the tail of gas and dust characteristic of many comets.

But a recent study has said that Oumuamua was a comet. Its speed-up was due to the release of hydrogen gas as the comet warmed up in the sunlight.

The study has also found that Oumuamua was born like many other comets as what is called a planetesimal – a small object formed in the early stages of planet formation – and was essentially a large, icy space rock.

After it was somehow ejected from its solar system of origin, the comet’s chemistry changed as it was bombarded by high-energy radiation while venturing through interstellar space. 

This converted some of the comet’s ice – frozen water – into hydrogen gas that was trapped within the rest of its ice.

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