Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser


This artist’s impression shows the first detected interstellar asteroid:`Oumuamua.

The unique object was discovered on October 19, 2017 by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawai`i. Subsequent observations were done by telescopes around the world, including the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT), the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (UKIRT) and the Keck Telescope on Maunakea, the Gemini South telescope, and the European Southern Observatory (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile.

Findings show that the object was on a path which must have been travelling through interstellar space for millions of years before its chance encounter with our star system. `Oumuamua seems to be a dark red highly-elongated metallic or rocky object — about 1,300 feet (400 meters) long — and is unlike anything normally found in the Solar System.

`Oumuamua is rapidly fading as it heads out of the solar system and recedes from both the Sun and the Earth, leaving in its wake memories of the science fiction novel, Rendezvous with Rama, by British writer Arthur C. Clarke first published in 1973. Set in the 2130s, the story involves a 31 mile (50-kilometer) cylindrical alien starship that enters Earth’s solar system.

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