mysteriousIt probably goes to science records as the first known interstellar object to be observed in our solar system, but it’s now clear that a few of the cosmic rubble that hit our atmosphere a few years ago also came from very deep space.
In 2019, two Harvard researchers who studied Oumuamua drafted a new paper that hypothesized that a very fast meteorite that made its way through the atmosphere in 2014 was also interstellar. The record of its impact and references to its unusual origin have been hiding in plain sight in NASA’s fireball database for years.
“Its high speed…indicates a possible origin from the deep interior of a planetary system or star in the thick disk of the Milky Way,” the summary reads. the paper From student Amir Siraj and veteran astronomer Avi Loeb.
However, as SI Recently said vicePeer review and publication of the paper were suspended because the US military compiled some of the data needed to confirm the scientists’ calculations.
It now appears that the bureaucratic impasse has broken down.
An unusual note from the US Space Command to NASA’s chief of science was shared via the USSC Twitter account last week after Deputy Commander Lieutenant General John Shaw revealed its presence at the annual Space Symposium in Colorado.
“Dr. Joel Moser, Chief Scientist, Space Operations Command … see analysis of additional data available to the Department of Defense relating to this finding,” the memo reads. “Dr Moser confirmed that the velocity estimate reported to NASA is accurate enough to indicate an interstellar path.”
It is estimated that the meteorite was relatively small, probably close to the size of a microwave. This means that the vast majority of it has burned up in the atmosphere and any remaining bits have fallen into the Pacific Ocean.
However, Siraj is looking into the possibility of searching for any remaining bits on the ocean floor, which Loeb believes may contain evidence of life from other star systems.
“The reported meteor entered the solar system at a speed of 60 km/s [134,216 mph], “Loeb told me in 2019.” Such a high velocity of ejection can only be produced in the innermost cores of planetary systems – within the orbit of the Earth around a star like the Sun, but in the habitable zone of dwarf stars, thus allowing such bodies to transport life from their parent planets.”
Since then, Loeb has become a controversial figure in scientific circles due to his claim that the “simplest explanation” for Oumuamua’s origin is that it was created by extraterrestrial intelligence.
It would be difficult to prove this hypothesis, because Oumuamua is currently moving away from us in deep space. Likewise, the odds of finding a speck of meteorite on the ocean floor are as good as just waiting for an ET to show up in person at Harvard.