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14 Apr, 2020 17:22

No aliens but massive destruction: Study offers theory about ORIGIN of mysterious interstellar visitor ‘Oumuamua

No aliens but massive destruction: Study offers theory about ORIGIN of mysterious interstellar visitor ‘Oumuamua

Fresh research has suggested a very violent origin story for the rocky, cigar-shaped, interstellar visitor known as ‘Oumuamua that has wandered into our solar system in recent years.

The mysterious object was spotted hurtling through our galactic neighborhood in October 2017 and was given its unusual name after the Hawaiian word for messenger.

Astronomers quickly realized that the object had several peculiar qualities, including its highly elongated shape, its apparent ability to accelerate without the help of gravity and its lack of an envelope of gas or dust.

The odd combination of characteristics led some Harvard scientists to propose that ‘Oumuamua could be an alien spacecraft and suggested that researchers remain open to the idea. 

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However, the new study has posited a natural explanation for all of the object’s eccentricities. It suggests that ‘Oumuamua is an “active asteroid” that formed from a body that was ripped apart by its parent star and then fired into space.    

“We showed that ‘Oumuamua-like interstellar objects can be produced through extensive tidal fragmentation during close encounters of their parent bodies with their host stars, and then ejected into interstellar space,” explained co-author Douglas Lin of the University of California, Santa Cruz. 

Writing in the journal Nature Astronomy, the boffins reported that this violent birth explains ‘Oumuamua’s mysterious features, including its shape, color and tumbling motion. They add that their findings again undermine the much-publicized alien spacecraft theory.

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