NASA tracking mysterious object from outside our solar system

Prototype of the S-512 supersonic jet

Travelling at a brisk 25.5km/s, A/2017 U1 has since risen up and is now speeding towards the constellation Pegasus.

This telescope has been scanning night skies for near-Earth objects for Nasa. This unusual space rock, initially thought to be a comet, is the first interstellar object we have ever been able to observe within our solar system. It could be the first interstellar object to visit the solar system that has been detected and observed by astronomers, NASA announced yesterday. Astronomers are now working to point telescopes towards the object to obtain more data.

Once these data are obtained and analyzed, astronomers may be able to find out more about the origin and possibilities of the composition of the object.

The detection was made using data from NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, a stellar observatory that was launched into space in 2009. Its closest approach to the sun came about a month before, on September 9, as the object flew "under" our solar system. "It is going extremely fast and on such a trajectory, we can say with confidence, this object is on its way out of the solar system and not coming back".

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Based on its current trajectory, the visitor came from the constellation Lyra and approached our solar from "above", perpendicular to the plane that most planets orbit the sun.

The team then figured out its provenance by observing its orbit. Tugged by the sun's gravity, it reversed course and hurtled back above the elliptic at an angle, passing about 15 million miles from Earth on October 14. A/2017 U1 has moved out of ecliptic plane and is now moving towards the Constellation Pegasus at a speed of 27 miles (44 Km) per second. So much material is flung about during the chaotic process of forming planets that it's likely some bits and pieces might escape and make their way to other solar systems. He sent images of the roughly 437-yard wide object to the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, then checked previous images taken by the telescope.

"We have been waiting for this day for decades", said JPL's Center for Near Earth Object Studies Manager Paul Chodas.

Because this is the first object of its type ever discovered, rules for naming this type of object will need to be established by the International Astronomical Union. The researchers, who were searching for near-Earth objects for NASA, had found the high-speed object which was less than a quarter-mile (400 meters) in diameter. All are projects of NASA's Near-Earth Object Observations Program, and elements of the agency's Planetary Defense Coordination Office within NASA's Science Mission Directorate. The Institute operates facilities on the islands of Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii.

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