A space rock that came from another star system has entered our solar system, the first time scientists have ever seen that.
For the first time ever, scientists have spotted a space rock in our solar system that came from another star system. The asteroid, which is about 400 meters wide and is speeding along at 27 miles per second, was first spotted Oct. 19 when a researcher saw a small bright object moving quickly across teh sky.
When the scientist, postdoctoral researcher Rob Weryk of the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, tried to find the rock in the archives of the Pan-STARRS telescope, he found that the asteroid followed a path unlike any that had been seen before.
It wasn’t circling in an ecliptic plane like planets and comets and asteroids in our solar system as they orbit the sun, but rather it approached from above and seemed to come from the constellation Lyra. It crossed through the elliptical plane of Mercury’s orbit back in September, and was caught by the sun’s gravity, where it was hurled back in the other direction and came within 15 million miles of Earth. Now, it’s headed for the constellation Pegasus.
“Its motion could not be explained using either a normal solar system asteroid or comet orbit,” Weryk said.
“This is the most extreme orbit I have ever seen,” said Davide Farnocchia, a scientist at NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “It is going extremely fast and on such a trajectory that we can say with confidence that this object is on its way out of the solar system and not coming back.”