Researchers from Arizona State University were looking at the origins of the interstellar body called “Oumuamua, discovered in 2017.” Oumuamua became so famous because it was the first interstellar object from outside our solar system to be detected using the Pan-STARRS Astronomical Observatory in Hawaii. The word “Oumuamua” means a Hawaiian scout or messenger.
Astrophysicists Stephen Desch and Alan Jackson were working to explain some of the Strange features From Oumuamua and concluded that it was likely a piece of Pluto-like planet from another solar system. “ Oumuamua was like a comet in many ways, but its peculiarities made its nature and history a mystery, ” the researchers say. Using the body’s observations, the researchers identified several properties that differed from what would be expected in a typical comet.
The differences included its velocity, which was slightly lower than expected and indicated that it had not traveled in interstellar space for more than a billion years or so. It also had a pancake shape that was flatter than any other known object in the solar system. While Oumuamua received a slight push away from the sun (the rocket effect), which is common in comets when the icy sunlight that makes up the comet evaporates, the thrust for Oumuamua was stronger than can be explained.
The body also lacks detectable runaway gas, which is typically detected in a comet’s story. The researchers assumed that the object was made of different ice, and they calculated how quickly the ice would sublimate as the body passed the sun. They were able to calculate the impact of the missile, the mass and shape of the object, and the reflection of the ice.
The duo realized that a piece of ice would be more reflective than people thought, which means it could be smaller. The same missile effect would give Oumuamua a bigger boost than expected. A specific ice was discovered being solid nitrogen which gave an exact match to all body features at the same time.
Solid nitrogen can be seen on Pluto’s surface, so ‘Oumuamua’ could be made of the same material as Pluto. They think it is possible that the object was shattered from the surface by a collision about half a billion years ago and thrown out of its original system. The frozen nitrogen will also explain the strange shape of ‘Oumuamua because as the layers of nitrogen ice evaporate, the shape of the object will gradually flatten out.