An interstellar meteor may have hit the Earth, and the implications are fascinating



A new study by two Harvard researchers reveals that the cosmos may have already deposited the first such visitor at our door five years ago in 2014, when a small meteor crashed into Earth near Papua New Guinea in the South Pacific. . According to his research, this 1.5-foot-wide object probably comes from another solar system.

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.

"Almost every object that hits the Earth originates for the solar system," explains Dr. Abraham Loeb, chairman of the Department of Astronomy at Harvard University, and co-author of the study. "They are made from the same materials that the solar system made, the ones that are interstellar originate from another source, it's like receiving a message in a bottle from a distant place, we can examine it, as if we were walking." "On the beach and looking at the shells that are washed ashore, we could learn something about the ocean."

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.

You may remember that a much larger interstellar asteroid was discovered in 2017 bouncing menacingly in our interplanetary neighborhood. The 1,300-foot-long space nugget, dubbed "Oumuamua," was an equally tempting discovery. After all, if a small space rock in the South Pacific can give clues about what is happening throughout the universe, imagine what almost a hundred times that size could tell us.

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