The first ever alien object to visit our solar system is covered by a ‘strange shield’, scientists have revealed.
Oumuamua, which flew past Earth in October, has been fascinating scientists since it arrived in our solar system – but it’s hidden by a ‘layer of organic insulation’.
The ‘alien rock’ was the first ever known visitor to our solar system, which travelled here from another star, writes The Independent.
The asteroid’s name ‘Oumuamua’ means a messenger from afar arriving first in Hawaiian. It was spotted by a telescope in Hawaii on 18 October and was then seen 34 separate times in the week after.
While it’ s probably an icy body as expected, it appears to be wrapped in an organic coat, shielding the frozen water inside from being hit by the sun, according to the new research.
Alan Fitzsimmons from Queen’s University Belfast and the lead author of one of two major new studies into Oumuamua said:
In the end this was a nice result because we’ve expected all along that the majority of objects that would visit our solar system, would be icy in nature.
Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, said:
For decades we’ve theorised that such interstellar objects are out there and now – for the first time – we have direct evidence they exist.
This history-making discovery is opening a new window to study formation of solar systems beyond our own.
Still very little is known about what Oumuamua actually is, or even where it came from, and what it’s made of.
Scientists were only able to see the alien rock briefly before it passed through the other side of our solar system, which mean any kind of detailed work was limited.
Astronomer David Jewitt, of the University of California, Los Angeles, who led the observation team who reported on the characteristics said, according to PHYS:
I’m surprised by the elongated shape – nobody expected that.
Jewitt and his team observed the object for five nights in October, finding it to be about 100 ft by 100ft by 600 ft – the slightly red and pale pink hue are similar to asteroids from our own solar system.
Astronomer Jayadev Rajagopal said:
It’s exciting to point the Arizona telescope at such a tiny object which, for all we know, has been travelling through the vast emptiness of space for millions of years and then by luck, passes close enough for me to be able to see it that night!
On Thursday, NASA made a huge announcement about a discovery made in their Alien Hunting Project – a solar system exactly like our own, which is the first of its kind.
Two new planets found around the Kepler-90 star, which resembles our own sun, means the distant solar system has just as many planets as our own and could hold life.
The space agency held a widely-anticipated press conference on Thursday at 6pm GMT to reveal the new discovery.
It was made by the Kepler telescope and people have been getting excited after NASA announced they were holding a press conference because they had some news, giving scarce details.
The announcement of the press conference on the NASA website read:
NASA hosts a media teleconference to announce the latest discovery made by its planet-hunting Kepler space telescope.
The discovery was made by researchers using machine learning from Google.
Machine learning is an approach to artificial intelligence, and demonstrates new ways of analysing Kepler data.
Since becoming an integral part of the process of discovering other planets similar to Earth, it’s shown they share many things in common ‘indicating each star might have its own planet’.