Original Story of Oumuamua: How Was Our Interstellar Visitor Born?

The first known interstellar visitor of our solar system may have a very violent past. According to a recent study, Oumuamua, the mysterious object detected while passing through our inner solar system in October 2017, may be a part of a larger body that has been torn apart by its gravitational force while making a close transition from its original star.

In his statement, Yun Zhang, who served at the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and also the lead author of the study, said that this tidal fragmentation scenario provided an explanation not only for Oumuamua but also about how many asteroid-like interstellar objects were formed.

According to Zhang and co-author of the study, University of California astronomer Douglas Lin, this hypothesis also explains the oddity of Oumuamua. This oddity is extreme and multilayered. For example, Oumuamua is extremely long and even looks like a space cigar (and somehow flattened). Astronomers have never seen a space object like this before.

In addition to this, Oumuamua exhibited “gravitational acceleration” on his journey through our neighborhood, and this movement cannot be attributed to the shooting of the sun, Jupiter or other large objects. Such a movement can arise with the comet gas output that pushes the object in this direction, like propellants in spacecraft.
But although many astronomers thought this foreign body was a comet, Oumuamua showed no gas outflow, a visible tail or hair. Comets often tend to be away from host stars, so they are easier to plunge into interstellar space.

Finally, the detection of Oumuamua was also strange and quite informative. Considering how wide the space is, how long the journey of objects similar to this object takes, and our impotence in detecting such objects, we can think that objects such as Oumuamua can actually be huge. Zhang stated that each planetary system should have thrown out objects, on average, like 100 trillion Oumuamua.

The combination of the characteristic features of the object provokes some scientists to think that Oumuamua, Oumuamua, is a foreign spacecraft, most obviously managing the Department of Astronomy at Harvard University. According to Loeb, the data we have now is perhaps consistent with a light sail that is no longer used, and Loeb said the researchers should at least be open-minded.

But the new study suggests a natural explanation to the object. Zhang and Lin used a computer simulation to investigate how these objects were affected when passing near their original stars. This modeling study revealed that these very close transitions smash objects into long pieces and then throw them into interstellar space.
Overheating during the transition and subsequent cooling causes surface cracks on the objects, which support the strange shapes of the objects. The heat dissipation in the stellar tidal cracking process also leads to the loss of a large amount of volatile matter (i.e. elements or compounds that can be easily lost in space, such as water), which explains not only the absence of a visible tail with the reddish surface color of Oumuamua.

However, volatiles with high sublimation temperatures, such as water ice, can be found stuck under the surface. And, according to researchers, these hidden substances can act as they pass near the stars, like our sun, and produce a gravitational acceleration with the outflow of gas.

According to another study published in the journal Nature Astronomy on April 13, the objects that these kinds of interstellar objects actually belong to are very different. These thrown objects are; they may even belong to long-lasting comets, structures that begin to form planets, or “super-worlds” that hang around their stars. (By the way, these stars don't necessarily have to be alive, and super dense star relics known as the white dwarf can do this as well.) He already says in Zhang that these interstellar objects can provide important clues as to how planetary systems evolved and evolved.

In fact, it's not the only interstellar visitor we know about Oumuamua. In August 2019, astronomers spotted a second foreign visitor, known as the Comet Borisov (Comet Borisov - the comet himself, which is quite clearly a comet). Especially after the Vera C. Rubin Observatory in the Chilean mountains is online on the internet, they will start to see more of such objects. So Oumuamua is a visible part of the iceberg.

Exploring more of this type of object may be our best way to understand Oumuamua, which is rapidly moving through the dark depths of our outer solar system. Matthew Knight, co-leader of the U.S Naval Academy astronomer and Oumuamua International Space Science Institute, stated that it may be very interesting to discover whether the interstellar objects to be discovered in the coming years show similar characteristics to Oumuamua.


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