Interstellar objects pass through our planetary system on a daily basis

When ‘Oumuamua flew past the Sun, it was the first such object observed by scientists. When the sample size is a single copy, it is difficult to estimate how often such events will occur. However, the situation changed surprisingly quickly. In August 2019, just two years after Oumuamua, the interstellar comet 2I Borisov was discovered as it entered the solar system. It turns out that although we didn’t know it before, slivers of rock and ice from the neighborhood of other stars pass through our planetary system on a daily basis.

Read also: Where did Oumuamua come from? One of the hypotheses about the origin of this mysterious object was rejected

Interstellar objects – why are they important?

It is not surprising that both subjects caused a sensation not only among scientists, but also among fans of literature and science fiction films. After all, it turns out that random rock proved that interstellar travel is possible, only it takes a lot of time. Let’s imagine that we have discovered another object of this kind, prepare a special space mission, send a probe to land on such an object, collect samples from its surface and send them towards Earth. It is difficult to imagine the excitement of scientists if they managed to get their hands on and transfer to the laboratory a rock formed near another star.

The stars and planets in every planetary system are composed of the same material, from the same molecular cloud. This, in turn, means that the chemical composition of each star is slightly different, so the chemical composition of the planets orbiting the star may be slightly different than in the solar system. Until now, this chemical composition of other stars or exoplanets could only be studied by analyzing the spectrum of light they emit. However, if you could get such a boulder in your hands, nothing would ever be the same. I do not even think of finding organic matter on its surface or in the ice that forms it, although even without it, such inconspicuous rocks would be a revolution in the study of the evolution and origin of planetary systems. So it’s not surprising that some scientists are already considering searching for interstellar objects.

Interstellar comet 2I/Borisov

Also read: A probe will fly towards Oumuamua. One theory is that it is an extraterrestrial ship

They’re everywhere. I believe

If two interstellar objects are discovered in our neighborhood in two years, this means that a whole group of them passes very close to the Sun. In the latest scientific article Researchers are wondering how many of these objects were traveling this far from the sun and at such a speed that the sun could intercept them and put them into orbit around itself. Even more exciting is that scientists suspect that objects of this type can be captured and placed in near-earth orbits. This in turn leads to the conclusion that there may be a relatively constant number of interstellar objects in the vicinity of Earth.

Scientists suggest that the Vera Rubin Observatory, which will enter service in a few years, should find up to five interstellar objects per year. Interestingly, this in turn indicates that the hypothetical Oort cloud (the source of all long-period comets) may contain more interstellar objects than solar system objects.

Mathematical calculations conducted by scientists indicate that if the Sun succeeds in capturing interstellar objects, it is often located at a distance of at least 10 astronomical units from the Sun, where all the Centaurs are located, which are small bodies in the solar system that move in unstable orbits. This immediately raises the suspicion that some centaurs may not have actually formed near a star other than the Sun, and only then migrated to our vicinity. On the other hand, objects captured by Jupiter and thrown into near-Earth orbits should remain in such orbits for a relatively short time. If we assume a certain number of objects of this type in near-Earth orbit, then over the course of 50,000 years this number will decrease. However, it should be noted that these things are about one meter in size. There is no chance that the Sun or Jupiter will capture a massive object like ‘Oumuamua.

But even this one-meter boulder from another star would be studied for decades, if not centuries. Fingers crossed for a search.

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