10 November, 2018
New work by researchers at the Harvard Smithsonian center for astrophysics suggests the possibility that the elongated dark-red object, whose length is 10 times greater than the width, and the speed exceeds 315 thousand km/h, may have "artificial origin".
Scientists first spotted 'Oumuamua, a Hawaiian word for scout or messenger, in 2017, when they detected it blazing through the solar system at 196,000 miles per hour, Reuters reported.
"It is impossible to guess the objective behind Oumuamua without more data", Avi Loeb, chairman of Harvard's astronomy department and a co-author of the paper, told NBC News. Studies re-examining the light signals more carefully suggest that Oumuamua could be very elongated cigar-shaped to pancake-shaped."What is clear is that it can't have a shape that is almost spherical - like normal rocks we know", he said.Loeb said the mystery of Oumuamua's origin remains.
Not only is it the first-ever interstellar asteroid or comet detected by astronomers while passing through the solar system, its shape is unusual, its acceleration is unexpected, and a cometary tail - the signature trail of particles seen behind shooting stars - is conspicuous in its absence.
That shape would allow solar radiation to push the vessel along and explains the object's unusual acceleration.
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Others have since suggested it was actually an asteroid.
A handout image of an artist's impression released by the European Space Agency (ESA) shows Oumuamua - the first interstellar object discovered in the Solar System - June 27, 2018. But 'Oumuamua didn't have a "coma", the atmosphere and dust that surrounds comets as they melt.
So far, there is no obvious origin for 'Oumuamua.
According to NASA, this interstellar object was a "metallic or rocky object" about 400 metres long and 40 metres wide.
"We explain the excess acceleration of Oumuamua away from the Sun as the result of the force that the Sunlight exerts on its surface", the researchers claim in their paper.
The latest theory shedding more light on the nature of Oumuamua comes from a study carried out by two astronomers from the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.