Scientists have witnessed for the first time ever an object that has travelled here from another solar system and as you can see from the image, it looks pretty weird.
The asteroid Oumuamua was spotted by the European Space Agency’s Very Large Telescope in Chile and reveals an oddly-shaped cylindrical object that looks frankly alien compared to the asteroids we’re normally used to.
Measuring in at a massive 400 metres long this asteroid is around the same length as the world’s largest ships and has been travelling through interstellar space for millions of years before finally entering our solar system completely by chance.
It was first spotted on the 19 October by the smaller Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii as a faint dot of light heading across the night sky.
Researchers quickly realised that it’s path suggested an object that didn’t originate from our own solar system.
It was at that point that the larger telescopes like the VLT in Chile were powered up and brought into the search.
The team had to be quick as Oumuamua had already passed its closest point to the Sun and was heading out of our solar system back into deep space at an alarming rate.
Upon closely analysing Oumuamua it became clear that this wasn’t your standard asteroid either.
With an extraordinarily elongated shape it is 10 times longer than it is wide. It also varies dramatically in brightness as it spins on its axis.
It’s almost completely inert which probably means it’s composed of a heavy rock or metal while its dark reddish colour comes from constant radiation bombardment over millions of years.
What’s really amazing about this object however are the numbers surrounding its chance visit with our solar system.
Preliminary calculations suggest that it may have come from the bright star Vega within the constellation of Lyra.
However, even if it been travelling at high-speed it would have taken 300,000 years for it to reach us. 300.000 years ago Vega was in a completely different place suggesting that Oumuamua may well have been wandering the universe for hundreds of millions of years before finally reaching a solar system, and in this case, ours.