Think about it: an object, originating miles and millennia away, simply collapses into the sea. The implications are as vast and mysterious as the wide open space from which it arose.
A time capsule
Loeb and his co-author, Amir Siraj, studied the speed of objects that enter the Earth's atmosphere, which can be used to predict whether the object traveled in relation to the orbit of our sun.
"What we did was take the properties of the meteor and the velocity at the moment of the impact and extrapolate if it was linked to the sun or not," says Loeb. Of the three fastest recorded objects, the fastest was clearly tied to our sun. The third fastest could not be clearly categorized. But the second fastest, says Loeb, had all the characteristics of being literally out of this solar system.
"At this speed, it takes tens of thousands of years for an object to move from one star to another," he says. Since they do not know exactly where it originated, they can not say exactly how old it is, but it could be completely old. "Crossing the galaxy would take hundreds of millions of years."
A possible sign of life.
Of all the possibilities involved in this relatively small object, perhaps the most exciting is the idea that, in theory, interstellar objects could carry life from other solar systems.
"The most important thing is that there is a possibility that life could be transferred between stars," says Loeb. "In principle, life could survive in the core of a rock, either bacteria or tardigrades (a microscopic animal that lives in water), can survive in harsh conditions in space and get directly to us."
Hallucinatory? Only a little. And although the object detailed in this document is the first recorded interstellar meteor to hit the Earth, the study estimates that these objects enter Earth's atmosphere every ten years or so, which means there could be a million different interstellar objects floating around. around our solar system, just waiting to be examined.