The mysterious oblong asteroid Oumuamua will go down in the annals of science as the first known interstellar object discovered in our Solar System. But before that, a few years ago, an interstellar visitor from very deep space entered our atmosphere.
In 2019, two Harvard scientists who studied Oumuamua in detail compiled an article about an earlier similar object. In their study, the authors argued that the extremely fast meteorite that pierced the earth’s atmosphere in 2014 was also interstellar. The record of its fall and hints of an unusual origin have been hidden for years in the NASA fireball database.
“Its unusually high speed suggests a possible origin from the depths of the planetary system. Or even a distant star of the Milky Way galaxy,” says the summary of the article by student Amir Siraj and experienced astronomer Avi Loeb.
Confirmation from the US Department of Defense
However, according to Vice, the first review and publication of the article were postponed for some time. The fact is that the US military has classified the data necessary to confirm the calculations of scientists. This bureaucratic impasse now seems to have been overcome. The response of the US Space Command to the scientific director of NASA was published via the USSC Twitter account last week. Deputy Commander Lieutenant General John Shaw confirmed the existence of an interstellar meteorite at the annual space symposium in Colorado.
6/ “I had the pleasure of signing a memo with @ussfspoc’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Mozer, to confirm that a previously-detected interstellar object was indeed an interstellar object, a confirmation that assisted the broader astronomical community.” pic.twitter.com/PGlIOnCSrW
— U.S. Space Command (@US_SpaceCom) April 7, 2022
“The Chief Scientist of the Space Operations Command, Dr. Joel Moser, analyzed the data available to the Ministry of Defense. He confirmed to NASA that the speed of the meteorite was indeed so high that it indicates its interstellar trajectory,” the memo says.
Guest from the habitable zone of a dwarf star
“The asteroid entered the Solar system at a speed of 60 km/s. Such a high ejection rate from a distant planetary system can only be achieved very close to a star. This probably happened in the habitable zone of dwarf stars,” explains astronomer Avi Loeb.
It is estimated that the meteorite at the time of collision with the Earth was relatively small — the size of a microwave oven. This means that most of it burned up in the atmosphere, and the remnants fell into the Pacific Ocean.
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