NASA reported on October 26, 2017 that astronomers have been watching a small body that could be an asteroid, or perhaps a comet, apparently from beyond our solar system, from somewhere in interstellar space. If that is indeed the case, it would be the first interstellar asteroid or comet to be observed and confirmed. The object is currently designated A 2017 U1, and it’s less than a quarter-mile in diameter. NASA said it is moving remarkably fast, about 15.8 miles per second, similar to Earth’s own speed in orbit around the sun.
Astronomers around the world are aiming earthly telescopes, and telescopes in space, in this unusual object’s direction. They’re trying to find out as much as they can about A 2017 U1, perhaps to determine its composition, and hopefully to confirm if indeed it is visiting us from somewhere else in our Milky Way galaxy, before it shoots away again, forever.
A 2017 U1 passed under Earth’s orbit on October 14 at about 60 times the moon’s distance. Now it appears to be heading toward interstellar space again.
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Rod is a blogger, writer, filmmaker, photographer, daydreamer who likes to cook. Rod produces and directs the web series, CUPIC: Diary of an Investigator. He is also the editor, producer and administrator of TNC Network.