Scientists may have solved the mystery of the Oumuamua interstellar object, which in 2017 puzzled scientists and even led some to say that it was an alien alien ship. The most surprising thing about this object was that its speed did not match the speed of any other previously observed object and was still increasing.
After years of research, UC Berkeley associate professor of chemistry Jennifer Bergner and US National Science Foundation doctoral student at Cornell University Darryl Seligman published a theory in the journal Nature that could explain everything, to the disappointment of ufologists.
What was wrong with ‘Oumuamua
The first interstellar object in the history of observations unexpectedly appeared in the solar system in 2017 and immediately put scientists in a difficult position.
It was a 200-meter cigar-shaped rock, which was first taken for an asteroid, and then rethought as a comet. During his journey through our solar system, he approached the Earth at a distance of 24 million kilometers, and then flew out of the system.
His entire journey past the Sun and Earth lasted about 80 days.
During observations of ‘Oumuamua, astronomers found that he was moving in a so-called “hyperbolic” orbit, similar to a boomerang. Thanks to this, scientists were able to accurately establish that the object did not come from our solar system, but only flew in the neighborhood and would never be seen again.
But what surprised the scientists even more was the speed of ‘Oumuamua. In particular, the acceleration noticeable during the flight past the Sun. Scientists have long known that planets and stars can give gravitational acceleration to comets or asteroids, but Oumuamua’s speed, reaching 87 kilometers per second, did not fit into existing theories, three times the speed of the average comet in the solar system.
There was also the possibility that the object was being accelerated by the evaporation of surface ice during its flyby of the Sun, but in that case it would have left a visible tail. But there was nothing like that.
It is precisely because of these nuances and the cigar-shaped form of ‘Oumuamua that scientists did not hesitate to speculate aloud while watching an alien ship equipped with an engine.
Why was ‘Oumuamua accelerating
Now Bergner and Seligman have proposed an idea that explains everything, but has only one minor problem.
“I’ve been trying to explain the outgassing for several years. At first I thought that perhaps there was simply not too much dust in the gas stream (to form a tail). Later we thought that perhaps it (Oumuamua) consists of some more more volatile material than what we see in normal comets, like hydrogen, nitrogen or carbon monoxide, but there were theoretical problems with each of those explanations,” Seligman told Space.
He noted that hydrogen required extremely low temperatures to freeze to an object the size of ‘Oumuamua, and scientists do not expect such temperatures inside the dense molecular clouds from which these objects form. Nitrogen is not abundant enough in the Milky Way.
The researchers then suggested that there might not be anything surprising in ‘Oumuamua’s chemistry.
“A comet traveling through the interstellar medium is, in fact, cooked by cosmic radiation, forming hydrogen as a result. We thought: if this happens, then if it can be trapped in the body so that when it enters the solar system and heats up, it releases this hydrogen? Seligman explained.
The calculations performed showed that, in theory, the force of such hydrogen release can explain the strange acceleration of ‘Oumuamua.
“The beauty of Jennifer’s idea is that this is exactly what should happen to interstellar objects. We had all these stupid ideas, like hydrogen icebergs and other crazy things, and this is just the most general explanation,” Seligman said.
The only problem with this theory is that Oumuamua has disappeared from the solar system forever and there is no way to finally prove it. Scientists hope that over time, another interstellar guest will arrive in the solar system, which will answer the questions of interest to scientists.
Earlier, GLOBAL HAPPENINGS also talked about the theory of scientists, according to which there may be aliens in the solar system that launch probes to Earth.
I am a technology author with 8 years of experience in journalism. My writing covers the latest technology advancements and trends, drawing on my expertise in news journalism and social media platforms. I have contributed to major media outlets such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Reuters.