A new research has revealed that the mysterious interstellar rock ‘Oumuamua’ could actually be a comet, not an asteroid as earlier believed.
The cigar-shaped object has perplexed scientists since it was first spotted whipping past Earth in October 2017.
It is the first object ever seen in our solar system that is known to have originated elsewhere.
At first, scientists assumed ‘Oumuamua was a comet, a small icy body that, when heated by the Sun, develops a coma – a fuzzy atmosphere and tail made of volatile material vaporizing off the comet body.
But because ‘Oumuamua appears in telescope images as a single point of light without a coma, scientists then concluded it was an asteroid.
The new study, published in the journal Nature, again suggests that the object could be a comet.
Using observations from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based observatories, the scientists confirmed ‘Oumuamua’ got an unexpected boost in speed and shift in trajectory as it passed through the inner solar system last year.
The scientists realized that a coma and jets might not be visible to the telescopes used to observe it.