On Wednesday, scientists confirmed that the reddish object shaped in the form a cigar termed ’Oumuamua which was spotted last year is actually a comet. With this the mystery pertaining to the classification of the first interstellar object traversing our solar system has been unraveled. Astronomers have informed that the trajectory of ’Oumuamua was comprehensively examined and it was found that it measured approximately half a mile in length.
The findings also implied towards a slight deviation in its path which should have been dictated by the gravitational pull of the Sun due to an extremely minimal emission of gas from its surface thereby implying that it is a comet. ‘Oumuamua was initially considered to be a comet but the lack of common characteristics of comets such as a tail of gas and dust made it appear otherwise with some scientists assuming that it is a dry asteroid.
According to the leader of the research, Marco Micheli from the European Space Agency’s SSA-NEO Coordination Center in Italy, the celestial body did not show any tail in the observations obtained by them. In an email, he stated that in contrast to assumptions their analysis unraveled that the amount of emitted gas could have been extremely minimal in order to escape their observations. The additional force exerting on the trajectory of the object could account for a mere 0.1 percent of the gravitational attraction of the Sun.
The first sighting of the ‘Oumuamua was made by the Pan-STARRS1 telescope of the University of Hawaii last October. The nomenclature of the celestial body is based on the native Hawaiian term for a messenger arriving from a largely distant location. The object had already slingshot past the Sun at a speed of almost 196,000 miles per hour and is presently moving out of the solar system towards the Pegasus constellation.
According to Micheli’s statement, ‘Oumuamua’s discovery has led to a new benchmark and opportunities for studying objects from other star and planetary systems. The studies on these objects in detail could also provide credible insights into the distant systems and the processes of their formation.