The distinctive cigar-shaped space rock discovered in 2017 is not a spaceship from another planet. That’s what researchers write in the latest edition of Science magazine Nature Astronomy. They don’t know what the Rock is yet. “We’ve never seen anything like it, it’s still a mystery. The thought of a spaceship is fun, but there are many natural phenomena that can explain the Rock,” says researcher Matthew Knight.
The Red Rock With The Shape of a cigar was named ‘Oumuamua’. That’s Hawaiian for “messenger from afar arriving first,” because a telescope in Hawaii was the first to spot it. ‘Oumuamua’ is the first discovered visitor from outside our solar system. It’s probably been floating around the Galaxy for hundreds of millions of years, not tied to a star.
The space rock is about 40 meters wide and 400 meters long. That’s remarkable, because the asteroids and comets in our solar system are much less stretched. Besides, it’s a quick spin, like a bottle of soda on the floor. Because of its strange appearance and behavior, stories soon emerged that ‘Oumuamua would not be natural.
But the observations of the scientists do correspond to a natural origin for ‘oumuamua. Unseen, though. “We have never seen anything like ’Oumuamua in our solar system. It is still a mystery,” said one of the researchers at CNN. “This thing is something weird, hard to explain. But that doesn’t rule out other natural phenomena that could explain it.”
The researchers expect many more of these rocks to be on their way to our solar system. They want to study it with a new telescope in Chile, which should be put into service in a few years’ time. Hopefully, we will soon get a better understanding of how ‘ordinary’ – or rare – the properties of ’Oumuamua is.