One of the more pressing questions now is why the first object to have made this fascinating journey was an asteroid, not a comet.
A diagram showing the path of A/2017 U1. Caption and credit: NASA
Aswin Sekhar is an Indian astrophysicist based at CEED, the University of Oslo, Norway.
Oslo: Media outlets around the world have been abuzz with news about a newly discovered body in our Solar System that appears to have come from the neighbourhood of a different star. Since its discovery, astrophysicists have been conducting follow-up observations and immersing themselves in mathematical calculations that could tell us more about its origins and properties.
Theoretical astrophysicists predicted the existence of such interstellar visitors many years ago. “Many times over the years, astronomers have predicted comets that could come from way beyond our planetary system. Accurate observation and computation always showed these objects to be gravitationally bound to our Sun, even if only loosely, and orbiting [it] in the distant ‘Oort cloud of comets’,” said David Asher, an astronomer at Armagh Observatory and Planetarium in Northern Ireland, told The Wire. “This new body, [known only as] A/2017 U1, is totally different – the first asteroid or comet unambiguously ...