Last year, a mysterious celestial object passed by our sun, leaving scientists wondering what it was and where it came from. They called it Oumuamua and began analyzing its trajectory and retracing its path towards the place it came from.
An international team of astronomers discovered from ESA data that the mysterious object was an interstellar visitor which came from one of four possible stars.
The leader of the team, Coryn Bailer-Jones, an astronomer at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany, stated:
“Somehow it must have escaped from that system to get to us. At what point in the life of the system we do not know.”
Evidence shows that Oumuamua must have been ejected by a massive gravitational force from a giant planet which orbited the home star of this celestial body. Over a million years ago, Oumuamua left its home, wandering the universe.
Research has found that four possible stars might have hosted the space rock, but until now, astronomers didn’t spot any planet to orbit either of them – for now.
Tracing Back Was More Accurate With Gaia Observatory
Until now, scientists have tried to track the point of origin of the rock but had too little information. With the help of Gaia probe, ESA’s space observatory, which gathers information on over a billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, astronomers could finally learn more about Oumuamua’s origin.
An astronomer at the University of Toronto, Scarborough, Alan Jackson, who was not involved in this study, confirms that the new data is essential to the research:
“With the new data from Gaia, we have a far better picture of how far away the stars are and how they are moving, which makes this kind of tracing back much more accurate.”
After considering 7 million stars from Gaia’s collection and another 220,000 from the astronomical literature, calculations involving gravity pull, the team closed in on four stars that might have been home to Oumuamua: HIP 3757 – a reddish dwarf star, a sun-like star – HD 292249, and two other stars (with very little information and no name at the moment).
Bailer-Jones concluded that the research has just begun on Oumuamua’s origins and that the possible home could actually be a very far away star that cannot be seen at all.
Doris’s passion for writing started to take shape in college where she was editor-in-chief of the college newspaper. Even though she ended up working in IT for more than 7 years, she’s now back to what he always enjoyed doing. With a true passion for technology, Doris mostly covers tech-related topics.