NASA detects its first recorded interstellar object

The fast-moving object passed through our inner solar system in September and October. (Oct. 29, 2017)

NASA has detected what it believes is the first ever interstellar object to be observed and confirmed by astronomers.

Basically, it's an asteroid or comet -- but one that came from a whole other solar system!

The fast-moving object, less than a quarter-mile in diameter, passed through our inner solar system in September and October. NASA described the discovery in a news release.

It followed an unusual orbit, descending upon our solar system and then, pulled by the sun's gravity, making a hairpin turn out of it.

ABC10 talked about this exiting discovery with Sacramento's Sidewalk Astronomers, at Broadway and Land Park Drive.

"We caught it and it's really small," sidewalk astronomer Douglas Wolfe said. "That means that our ability to detect objects has gotten to a whole nother level. It's really significant that we're able to make this observation about this object and learn as much as we have learned in such a short time."

Scientists have long believed that such interstellar travelers exist but had never observed one, until now.

"We have every reason to believe that objects like that have been traveling through the solar system forever, and they might happen a lot-a lot, but to be able to detect something for the first time, yeah, it's really exciting," Wolfe said. "At the moment, what we know about it is, it's really cool. We would have to have more of these. Is there a pattern? Are they coming from once place? Is there some reason why they follow a pattern? Is there some reason why they don't follow a pattern? We need some more of these observations to sort of synthesize some kind of an understanding."

In other space news, Saturday is International Observe the Moon Night. Sky-watching events are taking place all over the world.

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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