The first known interstellar rock gets a name

Nov 23, 2017

[inline|iid=143718]The International Astronomical Union has spoken. The first body known to have visited Earth’s solar system from interstellar space, which had been given the provisional name 1I/2017 U1, is to be called ’Oumuamua. The object, 180 metres long and 30 metres wide, was discovered on October 19th by Rob Weryk of the University of Hawaii, using Pan-STARRS 1, a telescope in Haleakala, and was announced to the world on October 26th. The picture above shows an artist's impression of what it may look like. Roughly translated from the Hawaiian, the new name means “a messenger from afar arriving first”.[inline|iid=143719]The montage shows five images of ’Oumuamua, each taken a day apart from Kitt Peak National Observatory, in Arizona. Analysis of these and others shows ’Oumuamua to be dull red. In this it resembles several known asteroids, including members of a group called the Trojans that travel as a cluster in the same orbit as Jupiter. This observation, and the latest estimate of ’Oumuamua’s dimensions, have just been published by David Jewitt of the University of California, Los Angeles, and his colleagues in a paper submitted to Astrophysical Journal Letters.[inline|iid=143738] 


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