Oumuamua, seen here in an artist’s impression, was first thought to be a huge asteroid. Scientists led by Stephen Hawking are working out its origins
EPAScientists continue to scratch their heads about a Cigar-like object that has recently reached us from another star system.
Initially, astronomers thought it was a comet or an asteroid from within the solar system. However, after studying its orbit and discovering its long, cylindrical shape, they realised that it was neither and had come from Interstellar space.
Researchers are still trying to work out if it is an
The object was discovered by the Pan-Starrs project at the University of Hawaii in October. Hundreds of metres long but perhaps only a tenth as high and wide, its shape has never been seen in space before.
The mysterious 'cigar' was travelling at a speed of 196,000mph. According to scientists, this suggests that it is not gravitationally bound to the Sun and will continue its voyage back into interstellar space. Six weeks of study shows it contains no water or ice and has a dark-reddish hue, probably from many years of radiation from cosmic rays.
While scientists admit that a natural origin is more likely, there is no consensus on what that origin might have been.
Astrophysicists have often theorised that there are between one and ten “visitors” per year in our solar system but that they move so fast we have never been lucky enough to spot one before.