An amateur astronomer may have seen something from outside our solar system, according to an announcement from the Minor Planet Center.
Astronomers discovered the first known interstellar object, called & # 39; Oumheula, in 2017. Hyperbolic orbit indicates that it came from a distance and will not return. Tones of speculation followed what could have been, speculation of course with the aliens. The newly discovered object is the second such as the interstellar visitor – but many more observations are coming.
An amateur astronomer named Gennady Borisov first saw the object on August 30, using a telescope he built himself. Other observations (and hype) followed. Today, the Minor Planet Center at the Center for Astrophysics has released an official circular object, now tentatively called C / 2019 Q4 (Borisov). If scientists confirm the nature of the interstellar, it will accept a new name beginning with 2I, indicating it as a second interstellar object.
In more observations of matter, scientists began calculating the shape of its orbit. These calculations seem to imply that the trajectory has a hyperbolic shape – rather than the elliptical shape that identifies the orbits of the objects rotating in the Sun. The trajectory suggests that the object will eventually exit the solar system, never to return.
Astronomer Michele Bannister at the Astrophysics Research Center at Queen & # 39; s University tweeted that other things ] was initially found to have hyperbolic orbits, only to be resolved in more common orbits when observations arrived.
"Further observations are clearly desirable," reads the circular MPC.
Matthew Holman, director of the MPC, told Gizmodo that matter is close to the Sun in the sky when viewed from Earth, making it challenging to observe, and astronomers must be careful about the potential effects of environment in any of the observations.
Interstellar objects are exciting, because they probably carry information on what objects look like elsewhere in the galaxy. The first interstellar guest. 'Primarily. brought much excitement; to some, the strange, tobacco-like thing seems impossible. This novelty will surely bring its own hype and speculation (and, of course, more talk of foreigners). But this is especially exciting because astronomers can make comparisons between it and the & # 39; Oumheula. Preliminary observations indicate the object was an active comet with a large temporary environment, or coma, Holman said.
"An unexpected omission or distress, this matter must be noticed for at least one year," according to the circular. . We look forward to learning more about this potential visitor in the coming months.