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Old 13-11-2018, 06:24 AM   #26
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Interstellar object 'Oumuamua' is 'unexpectedly' speeding up, leaving Nasa scientists baffled

The first known interstellar object to travel through our solar system is unexpectedly speeding up, and scientists don’t know why.

Nasa? have said observations from their Hubble Space Telescope have confirmed the interstellar object, Oumuamua, has had an “unexpected boost in speed and shift in trajectory as it passes through the inner solar system.”

Marco Micheli of ESA’s (European Space Agency) Space Situational Awareness Near-Earth Object Coordination Centre in Italy said: “Our high-precision measurements of ?Oumuamua’s position revealed that there was something affecting its motion other than the gravitational forces of the Sun and planets.”

The boost has left scientists scratching their head as to what could be causing the increase in speed, but early analysis shows some theories.

Analysing the trajectory of the interstellar visitor, co-author Davide Farnocchia of the Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) said the speed boost was consistent with the behaviour of a comet.

He said: “This additional subtle force on ?Oumuamua likely is caused by jets of gaseous material expelled from its surface,”

“This same kind of outgassing affects the motion of many comets in our solar system.”

Karen Meech, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii’s Institute of Astronomy, said she was learning lots from the interstellar object’s behaviour.

She said: “'I’m amazed at how much we have learned from a short, intense observing campaign. I can hardly wait for the next interstellar object!"

Oumuamua, less than half a mile in length, now is farther away from our Sun than Jupiter and traveling away from the Sun at about 70,000 mph as it heads toward the outskirts of the solar system. In only another four years, it will pass Neptune’s orbit on its way back into interstellar space.
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