There was a buzz among astronomers back in the fall of 2017 when a large, cylindrical object was detected entering our solar system. Well, just in time for Christmas 2019, it’s happening again.
At first, the 2017 object seemed to be a new comet not previously known. But there was something odd about this. This comet was found not to be in an orbit with our sun, but rather a deep space object that was just passing through at a very high rate of speed, faster than comets in our solar system are known to move.
All asteroids and comets previously identified come from within tour solar system and are locked in long, elliptical obits with our sun. Not this baby.
The 2017 object was also oddly cylindrical in shape, (one of the most popular shapes for UFO’s this season). There was a spirited discussion for a while that this could indeed be an object sent by life forms from another solar system. Perhaps a scout research drone or maybe some sort of interstellar bus that just doesn’t stop here. Eventually, cooler heads decided that, no, this was most likely an interstellar rock or ice ball—just passing through.
The new 2019 object seems also to be a comet from another star, speeding through our solar system. This comet, dubbed C/2019 Q4 (Borisov), marks the second time that astronomers have seen an interstellar visitor flying by on its way past our sun. Twice in two years.
According to Lisa Grossman, a writer for Science News, “Ukrainian amateur astronomer Gennady Borisov spotted the comet on August 30. In the days that followed, other astronomers took enough observations of the comet to show that its orbit is not bound to the sun, a telltale sign that the object is from interstellar space, says astrophysicist Matthew Holman. He is the director of the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Mass., which reported C/2019 Q4’s trajectory September 11 in a public bulletin.”
The Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii had discovered the first object, and labelled it A/2017 U1. They later gave it a nifty Hawaiian name, ‘Oumuamua,’ roughly translated as ‘What the hell is that?’ (kidding!)