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Astrobiology Magazine

Tracking the interstellar object ‘Oumuamua to its home

26 Sep 2018, 19:00 UTC
Tracking the interstellar object ‘Oumuamua to its home
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A team of astronomers led by Coryn Bailer-Jones of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy has tracked the interstellar object ‘Oumuamua to several possible home stars. The object was discovered in late 2017 – this was the first time astronomers have been able to observe an astronomical object from another star system visiting our own Solar System. Bailer-Jones and his colleagues used data from the ESA astrometry satellite Gaia to find four plausible stars where ‘Oumuamua could have begun its long journey, more than a million years ago. The discovery of the interstellar object now known as ‘Oumuamua in October 2017 was a premiere: for the first time, astronomers were able to visit an interstellar object visiting our Solar System. Unfortunately, the visitor was caught only as it was leaving, but astronomers were still able to use ground-based and space telescopes to measure the object’s motion. Now, a group of astronomers led by Coryn Bailer-Jones has managed to back-track ‘Oumuamua’s motion and to identify four candidate stars where the interstellar object could have originated. Earlier studies had attempted similar reconstructions of ‘Oumuamua’s origin, but had not come up with plausible candidates. A crucial new ingredient These earlier studies were missing ...

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