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Curiouser and Curiouser -- Why is Interstellar Asteroid Oumuamua Accelerating as it Leaves the Solar System?

Posted by Guy Pirro 05/09/2019 12:54AM

Curiouser and Curiouser -- Why is Interstellar Asteroid Oumuamua Accelerating as it Leaves the Solar System?

More than a year has passed since the discovery of 1I/2017 U1 Oumuamua, a bizarre interstellar asteroid that burst onto the scene and then disappeared into the distance just as quickly as it arrived. Once detected, astronomers scrambled to observe the intriguing asteroid as it zipped through the Solar System at a steep trajectory from interstellar space – The first confirmed object from another star. Data revealed the interstellar interloper to be a rocky, cigar shaped object with a somewhat reddish hue. The asteroid, about one quarter mile (400 meters) long and highly elongated, is ten times as long as it is wide. While its elongated shape is quite surprising and unlike asteroids seen in our Solar System, it may provide new clues into how other star systems form. New observations and analyses suggest that this unusual object has been wandering through the Milky Way, unattached to any star system, for hundreds of millions of years before its chance encounter with our star system. But many unsolved questions remain. What are Oumuamua’s structure, composition, and shape? Where did it come from? How was it launched onto its journey to our Solar System? And now a new question – Why is Oumuamua accelerating as it leaves the Solar System?


A couple of things come to mind here....was it accelerating when it entered our solar system? Stands to reason it would still be as it leaves :) Failing that it was the RAMA Clarke wrote about and we missed it :)


Yes -- The object was accelerating as it entered the Solar System. It was clocked at about 59,000 miles per hour when it was first detected and by the time it slingshotted past the Sun, it was traveling at a speed of 196,000 miles per hour. That's not unusual behavior and would be expected due to the gravitational pull of the Sun.

But the question still remains -- Why is it accelerating as it leaves the Solar System and is now fighting the pull of the Sun? Scientists haven't been able to figure that one out yet.