Photo credit: William Hartmann
When`Oumuamua was first discovered in 2017, some speculated that it could be an interstellar spaceship, but a new study has found that it could be just a remnant of a Pluto-like planet, shaped like a cookie cutter. Arizona State University researchers Alan Jackson and Steven Desch claim that the odd 148-foot object appears to be made of frozen nitrogen, similar to the surface of Pluto and Neptune’s largest moon Triton. Read more for two videos and additional information.
The astronomers believe that this piece was knocked off a chunk an icy nitrogen-covered world 500-million-years ago and sent it tumbling from its star system, toward ours. The red remnant is only a sliver of its original form, as its outer layers have been disintegrated by cosmic radiation and sunlight. This object was named Oumuamua, Hawaiian for scout, after the observatory in Hawaii that discovered it.
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This research is exciting in that we’ve probably resolved the mystery of what ‘Oumuamua is and we can reasonably identify it as a chunk of an ‘exo-Pluto,’ a Pluto-like planet in another solar system. Until now, we’ve had no way to know if other solar systems have Pluto-like planets, but now we have seen a chunk of one pass by Earth,” said Steven Desch, the study’s author.