'Alien' rock could be first confirmed object from outside our solar system

While comets regularly fly through our solar system scientists believe they may have spotted a comet from another solar system passing by our planet for the first time

Space rock from another galaxy screams through Solar System

The space agency said the object is less than a quarter mile in diameter and is traveling "remarkably fast".

As quoted from NASA's website on, Saturday (10/28/2017), a temporary asteroid called A / 2017 U1 was discovered on October 19 by the Pan-STARRS 1 University of Hawaii telescope in Haleakala, Hawaii, during a night-time search for near objects Earth for NASA.

Scientists have detected the dusty tails of six exocomets - comets outside our solar system - orbiting a faint star 800 light years from Earth.

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If so, it would be the first "interstellar object" observed and confirmed by astronomers, making this a truly out-of-this-world event that scientists are rushing to observe while they can. Astronomers have seen objects with open-ended orbits like this before, but they were always nudged onto a hyperbolic path by outgassing (the warming and release of gasses as an object flies close to the sun, like air slowly slipping from a balloon) or gravitational interactions with planets. Robert Weryk from the the University of Hawaii was the first to identify the object. The images captured by the Pan-STARRS from the previous night also had the flying object.

Astronomers may have spotted the first comet or asteroid to visit from beyond the solar system. But with the combined data, everything makes sense. Its closest approach to the sun came about a month before, on September 9, as the object flew "under" our solar system. "What's most surprising is that we've never seen interstellar objects pass through before", said Karen Meech, an astronomer at the IfA specializing in small bodies and their connection to solar system formation.

Based on its current trajectory, the visitor came from the constellation Lyra and approached our solar from "above", perpendicular to the plane that most planets orbit the sun. On Sept. 2, the small body crossed under the ecliptic just inside of Mercury's orbit and then made its closest approach to the Sun on Sept. 9. Tugged by the sun's gravity, it reversed course and hurtled back above the elliptic at an angle, passing about 15 million miles from Earth on October 14. It seemed to be coming from the direction of the constellation Lyra and had been cruising through the chilly void of interstellar space at almost 16 miles a second. We hardly knew ya.

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Since this is the first object like this to be discovered, there are no rules for naming it; The International Astronomical Union will have to create a naming convention.

Animation showing the path of A/2017 U1 through the solar system.

"We have been waiting for this day for decades", said CNEOS Manager Paul Chodas. All are projects of NASA's Near-Earth Object Observations Program, and elements of the agency's Planetary Defense Coordination Office within NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

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