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The unknown among the stars: What a meteor that fell to Earth can teach us about the universe

Meteorites wander through space and frequently impact planets, such as Earth (NEA)

The noise must be incredible. Fireball flashes burning in the night sky over Manus Island, Papua New Guinea at 3:05 am on January 8, 2014surely lit the sky of this paradise in the Pacific Ocean.

Years later, due to the high speed carried by the one-meter object, Two Harvard scholars studied it, I calculated that it entered our atmosphere burning with energy equivalent to about 110 metric tons of TNT.

Is it one of the dozens of recognizable objects of this size that fall to Earth every year? Perhaps this was believed by many. but for What was unusual about this particular meteor was the very high speed it carried and the unusual direction in which it faced our planet.which together indicate that they came from interstellar space, that is, from another solar system or a distant star.

The night sky over Manus Island, Papua New Guinea lit up at 3:05 am on January 8, 2014 when this interstellar meteor (NEA) fell.
The night sky over Manus Island, Papua New Guinea lit up at 3:05 am on January 8, 2014 when this interstellar meteor (NEA) fell.

Amir Siraj s Avi LoebAnd astronomers from Harvard University, retrieval of records This atmospheric effect verified that this meteorite had reached Earth at an extraordinary speed: 210,000 km/h, well above the typical speed of the original rocks in our solar system. In addition, the trajectory of its orbit revealed it The rocks did not belong to our solar system, but were formed in distant places“The deep interior of a planetary system or star in the thick disk of the Milky Way,” the authors wrote.

Those were actually space rocks The first known object from another star systemAnd by connection Last Posted yesterday in US Space Command (USSC) classified as classified information for 3 years. Confirmation supports discovery The first interstellar meteorite It was first observed by Harvard theoretical astrophysicist Amir Siraj and his mentor Avi Loeb in Study published on prepress server arXiv In 2019 and that can only be read yesterday.

The object, a small meteorite with a diameter of only 1.5 feet (0.45 meters), slammed into Earth’s atmosphere on January 8, 2014, after traveling through space at more than 130,000 mph (210,000 km/h), a speed well above average. of the meteors that revolve within the solar systemaccording to a 2019 study of the object published in the preprint database arXivwho argued that the speed of this rock, along with the trajectory of its orbit, showed with 99% certainty that the object originated far from our solar system. But despite the near-certainty, the team’s paper was never reviewed or published in a scientific journal, as some of the data needed to verify their calculations was deemed classified by the US government.

UFO مذكرة Note
UFO مذكرة Note

Now, USSC scientists have officially confirmed the team’s findings. In a note dated March 1 and posted on Twitter on April 6, Lt. Gen. John E. Shaw, deputy commander of the US Security Forces, wrote that the 2019 fireball analysis was “accurate enough to confirm the interstellar path.”

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This assertion makes retroactive The 2014 meteor is the first interstellar object to be discovered in our solar system. The discovery of the meteorite preceded the discovery of ‘Oumuamua’, a cigar-shaped object moving too fast to have originated in our solar system. Unlike the 2014 meteor,Oumuamua has been discovered far from Earth and is already leaving the solar systemAccording to the latest data published by NASA). The same thing happened with the second interstellar object, Comet Borisov.

We live in a time when a lot of research is being done on smaller bodies in the solar system. This is a major international effort by a broad astronomical community searching for small space objects through various tracking programs. To track such an object, you must follow it in time and thus calculate its speed and trajectory. If it is confirmed that this meteorite that hit the Pacific Islands is an object that came from another solar system, Knowing more about the universe would be an impressive thing and a great scientific contribution‘, explain to Infobae Doctor of astronomy Patricio Zen From the Faculty of Astronomy and Geophysical Sciences of the National University of La Plata.

Meteorites are objects that travel through space and usually change their orbit as they approach different planets.
Meteorites are objects that travel through space and usually change their orbit as they approach different planets.

So far, humanity has discovered two interstellar objects such as Oumuamua and Borisov. But having a part of an object that came from another solar system and analyzing it in the lab would be a great thing that could give us a lot of information about other solar systems and other planets and stars. By analyzing its substance, you can study the chemical composition of something that did not form like Earth. This meteorite may tell the story of how it formed around another starZain added.

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“What happens to interstellar objects is that Our solar system is similar to other solar systems in the universe. Just as asteroids wander around, so do other asteroids. And sometimes, due to gravitational reasons, they can escape from it and reach other solar systems, which is why they are called interstellar. With this new object, we will have up to 3 interstellar objects, if confirmed‘, explain to Infobae astronomer Claudia Martinez.

He added of the potential discovery:The significance of this is that the more we know about other solar energy systems, the more we can learn about our own solar energy systems. The better idea we have of how these objects form and how they behave when they are close to another star, the better we know about our solar system to appreciate whether what we have is unique or something similar to what is outside our sun. If you only have a reference to nearby objects in our solar system and don’t know much about those orbiting another star, you don’t know if what you have is very special or similar to the others. Therefore, when there is a sample, it can be analyzed and it will become a huge source of information. But unfortunately since it has fallen into the ocean, it will be difficult to locate it on the ocean floor.”

The moment an Italian astronaut started seeing a meteorite entering Earth by selling the International Space Station
The moment an Italian astronaut started seeing a meteorite entering Earth by selling the International Space Station

Amir Siraj This is explained by the Harvard theoretical astrophysicist and lead author of the 2019 paper He still intends to publish the original study, so the scientific community can pick up where he and his colleagues left off. Since the meteor ignited over the South Pacific, parts of the body may have plunged into the water and have since embedded on the sea floor.

Siraj and study co-author Avi Loeb, who serves as the Frank P. Bird Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard University, were inspired to search for potential interstellar fireballs after discovering ‘Oumuamua, an interstellar object about 1,080 meters long and 80 meters wide, who was seen leaving the solar system in 2017. Loeb, who telescope That “Oumuamua was probably a piece of alien technology,” Siraj suggested. Review the database of fireballs and meteor impacts It is operated by NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS).

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It was too fast, so I thought: “Oh my God, this might be an interstellar meteoriteSiraj said. While locating remnants of interstellar debris can be a near-impossible task, Siraj said he is already consulting with experts about organizing an expedition to recover them.

Photographic document of a meteorite observed when it fell in Villa Adelina, Buenos Aires Province
Photographic document of a meteorite observed when it fell in Villa Adelina, Buenos Aires Province

The possibility of getting your first piece of interstellar matter is exciting enough to check it out thoroughly and talk to all of the world’s experts on ocean voyages to recover meteorites.explained Siraj, director of interstellar object studies at Harvard University’s Galileo Project. He added, “I like to think about the fact that we have interstellar material delivered to Earth and we know where it is. One thing I’m going to check, and I’m actually talking to people, is whether it’s possible to look at the ocean floor off the coast of Papua New Guinea and see if We could have gotten any fragments.”

Siraj acknowledged that the odds of such a discovery are low, because debris from the exploding fireball likely fell in small numbers into a disparate region of the ocean, making it difficult to track. “It’s going to be a great mission, but we’re going to look at it in depth because the possibility of getting the first piece of interstellar matter is exciting enough to thoroughly check it out and talk to all of the world’s experts on ocean voyages to recover meteorites,” the expert concluded.

Read on:

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