A tiny object whizzing through our solar system has left space experts baffled.
Not only does NASA not know what the mysterious object is, they also have no idea where it came from, according to a news release. Because it’s not behaving like a typical space rock native to our system, scientists are weighing the possibility that it could have come from somewhere beyond.
The object is less than a quarter-mile in diameter and is moving at a “remarkably fast” — about 15 miles per second — pace. It passed under the Earth’s orbit earlier this month at a distance of about 15 million miles.
If it is in fact from outside our solar system, “it would be the first interstellar object to be observed and confirmed by astronomers,” according to NASA.
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Paul Chodas, a manager at NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object studies said this phenomenon has been a long time coming.
“We’ve been waiting for this day for decades,” he said. “It’s long been theorized that such objects exist — asteroids or comets moving around between the stars and occasionally passing through our solar system — but this is the first such detection.
“So far, everything indicates this is likely an interstellar object, but more data would help confirm.”
Experts are directing telescopes both on the ground and in space toward the object in an effort uncover any additional details.
The object, temporarily dubbed A/2017 U1, isn’t a threat and appears to be headed toward the Pegasus constellation and out of the solar system.
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