An interstellar space stone may have reached Earth in 2014 – three years before the infamous & # 39; Oumuamua was seen.
It is suspected that it was a meter long and drove at 134,200 mph when it was spotted above Papau New Guinea.
Astronomers say the meteor has arrived on Earth after a speed boost from another planetary system or another star in the Milky Way.
The fate of the meteor is unknown, but it has probably fallen apart in the atmosphere of our planet.
Avi Loeb, a Harvard scientist who previously claimed that & # 39; Oumuamua might be an alien spacecraft, looked at the data and claims that the 2014 meteor came from a different galaxy.
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This meteor would be the second object that would have visited us from outside our solar system. The first known body that traveled to our neighborhood for the depths of interstellar space was the cigar-shaped object called & # 39; Oumuamua & # 39; (photo), first discovered in 2017
& # 39; You can imagine that if these meteors are thrown out of the habitable zone of a star, they can transfer life from one planetary system to another, & # 39; said Professor Loeb about his latest discovery.
The first known body to travel to the neighborhood from the depths of interstellar space was the cigar-shaped object & # 39; Oumuamua & # 39 ;, first discovered in 2017.
& # 39; Oumuamua is a Hawaiian word that translates to & # 39; scout & # 39 ;.
Based on the speed and trajectory of the cigar-shaped comet, scientists have determined that & o 39uumua probably traveled to us from another star, or maybe even beyond.
Professor Loeb created controversy in 2017 when he suggested that the then recently spotted & # 39; Oumuamua might have been a non-functioning or active probe sent by an alien civilization.
& # 39; Oumuamua is approximately 1,300 feet (400 meters) long.
However, Professor Loeb noted that it would be expected that visits to interstellar bodies smaller than & # 39; Oumuamua would occur much more frequently.
Moreover, some of these visitors can even reach the earth.
& # 39; We can use the Earth's atmosphere as the detector for these meteors that are too small to see otherwise, & # 39; said professor Loeb on Space.com.
Professor Loeb (pictured, in 2016, at the launch of the pioneering space exploration initiative Breakthrough Starshot) joined forces with astronomer Amir Siraj of his colleague Harvard to spend 30 years of meteorological observations looking for small interstellar visitors
WHY DOES AVI LOEB & OUMUAMUA THINK A STRANGE PROBE?
In a paper published to Astrophysical Journal Letters, Avi Loeb and Shmuel Bialy of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics interstellar object Oumuamua could be an alien probe powered by a wafer-thin light sail, either deliberately or simply as a piece of debris.
This would explain its acceleration, which is not in accordance with predictions for an object of the kind it is thought to be; currently, data show that Oumuamua is not an active comet.
According to Loeb, solar radiation pressure can be the cause of the acceleration – if it is an alien probe.
& # 39; Light sail technology may be used extensively for transporting cargo between planets or between stars, & # 39; the team writes.
& # 39; In the first case, a dynamic ejection of a planetary system could result in space debris from equipment that is no longer operational and floats at the characteristic speed of the stars relative to each other in the Solar neighborhood. & # 39;
To investigate this possibility, Professor Loeb and fellow astronomer Amir Siraj of the University of Harvard went through 30 years of meteorological observations in search of small interstellar visitors.
They retrieved their data from the & # 39; Center for Near-Earth Object Studies & # 39; catalog, which records meteor events detected by US government sensors.
The team focused their research on the fastest meteors.
These higher speeds indicate that the object in question is not gravitational bound to the sun and therefore may have come from outside the solar system.
The researchers identified such a meteor that met such criteria.
The object was approximately 3 feet (0.9 meters wide) and was detected at an altitude of 18.7 kilometers across Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, in the South Pacific.
It was observed that they traveled around 134,200 kilometers per hour (216,000 kilometers per hour) and such high speeds – in combination with the path it had taken through space – indicate that it may have originated outside of our solar system.
In addition, the recorded speed of the meteor suggests that it got a gravity boost during its journey, the researchers noted.
This boost can come from the interior of a planetary galaxy, or perhaps from a star on the Milky Way disc.
In addition to the interstellar meteor that they found from the control results, the researchers also discovered two other meteors that moved at equally high speeds.
There was, however, a circular path that suggested that it was bound to the sun by gravity, and thus had come from our own solar system.
The researchers were uncertain whether the other, based on the nature of his job, was in fact interstellar or local in origin.
It would be useful to study such interstellar meteors as they burn in the Earth's atmosphere, the researchers said. Professor Loeb suggests that astronomers set up an alarm system to automatically train telescopes on every detected meteor traveling at relevant high speeds
Assuming that the Earth is visited by three interstellar meteors every 30 years, the researchers predict that there must be around one million such meteors in every cubic astronomical unit of the Milky Way.
For reference, an astronomical unit is approximately 93 million miles (150 million kilometers), which is the average distance between the earth and the sun
Prof. Loeb's and Mr. Siraj's calculations would suggest that every nearby star should throw about 60 billion trillion such bodies into interstellar space.
This corresponds to approximately 0.2 to 20 times the mass of the earth.
It would be useful to study such interstellar meteors while they are being burned in the Earth's atmosphere, the researchers added.
Professor Loeb suggests that astronomers set up a warning system that automatically trains telescopes on every detected meteor traveling at relevant high speeds.
The telescopes could then analyze the gaseous debris that had formed when the meteor fell apart, he added.
& # 39; From that we can derive the compositions of interstellar meteors & # 39 ;, he said.
This could possibly tell us more about the composition of objects outside our solar system, for which there is currently some uncertainty.
The full findings of the study have been submitted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
A pre-print of the article can be read on the arXiv repository.
WHAT IS & # 39; OUMUAMUA AND WHAT DO WE KNOW?
A cigar-shaped asteroid called & Oumuamua sailed past the earth at 97,200 mph (156,428 km / h) in October.
It was first seen by a telescope in Hawaii on October 19 and was viewed 34 times the following week.
It is named after the Hawaiian term for & # 39; scout & # 39; or & # 39; messenger & # 39; and passed the earth about 85 times the distance from the moon.
It was the first interstellar object that was seen in the solar system and astounded astronomers.
At first it was thought that the object could be a comet.
However, it does not exhibit any of the classic behaviors expected from comets, such as a dusty tail of water ice.
The asteroid is up to 400 meters long and highly elongated – perhaps 10 times as long as it is wide.
That aspect ratio is larger than that of an asteroid or asteroid that has been observed in our solar system so far.
But the somewhat red color of the asteroid – especially pale pink – and the varying brightness are remarkably similar to objects in our own solar system.
Around the size of the Gherkin skyscraper in London, some astronomers were convinced that it was controlled by aliens because of the enormous distance that the object traveled without being destroyed – and the proximity of its journey across the earth.
Alien Hunters at SETI – the search for alien intelligence at Berkeley University in California, said there was a possibility that the stone & # 39; an alien artifact & # 39; used to be.
But scientists at Queen & # 39; s University Belfast have looked closely at the object and said it looks like an asteroid, or & # 39; planetesimal & # 39; as originally thought.
Researchers believe the cigar-shaped asteroid has a & # 39; violent past & # 39; after looking at the light that bounced off the surface.
They don't know exactly when the violent collision occurred, but they believe that the lone asteroid tumbling will last for at least a billion years.