'Oumuamua Origin Discovered: Asteroid Came From Tatooine-Like Binary Star System

Monday, 19 March 2018 - 12:52PM
Monday, 19 March 2018 - 12:52PM
'Oumuamua Origin Discovered: Asteroid Came From Tatooine-Like Binary Star System
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Image credit: YouTube

A long time ago in a solar system far, far away...

Scientists have been fascinated by 'Oumuamua, the solar system's first recorded interstellar visitor, ever since the skinny space rock paid us a visit last year. Named after the Hawaiian word for "scout", 'Oumuamua stopped by briefly in 2017 as it entered our solar system, took a quick spin around the sun, and then carried on its merry way out into the abyss beyond our reach.

As we delve into the history of this mysterious rocky asteroid, scientists are exploring various theories about where it could have come from, and what might have cause it to leave home at such speed.

A new study, published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, posits a new theory: 'Oumuamua came from a binary solar system, like Tatooine from Star Wars, with two suns caught in orbit around each other, as planets, asteroids, and other celestial debris constantly rotates around the pair of stars.

The evidence for this, apparently, is the fact that 'Oumuamua is made of rock, rather than ice. Our own solar system (which has only the one sun, just in case you were wondering) doesn't lose a lot of rocky asteroids out into the blackness of deep space - instead, comets are far more likely to detach and disappear.

The fact that 'Oumuamua didn't melt while on its trip around our sun suggests that it's made of rock, but this also means that it probably didn't come from a solar system that looks much like our own.

According to lead scientist, Dr. Alan Jackson:

Opening quote
"It's really odd that the first object we would see from outside our system would be an asteroid, because a comet would be a lot easier to spot and the Solar System ejects many more comets than asteroids...
"The same way we use comets to better understand planet formation in our own Solar System, maybe this curious object can tell us more about how planets form in other systems."
Closing quote

Apparently, 'Oumuamua would have originally left its own solar system very early during its formation, and its launch out into the stars could have been a fairly spectacular event, if its current speed and trajectory can be trusted to give us information about where it came from. As binary star systems are good at bouncing rocks out into the wider universe, this helps support what should logically be referred to as the Tatooine theory of its origin.

Of course, Jackson's assertion only works if we assume that we've accurately determined what 'Oumuamua is made of. Some scientists have suggested that 'Oumuamua might be both a comet and an asteroid, containing chunks of ice within its rock.

If that's the case, it's harder to be certain exactly where the mysterious lightsaber-shaped object came from—but we probably shouldn't discount the possibility that it's actually a chunk of Alderaan or Starkiller Base, or indeed, a Yuzhaan Vong spaceship that's been here on a recon mission ahead of an alien invasion.

If that's the case, then may the Force be with us - we're gonna need it!