US military confirms interstellar object hit Earth in 2014

In this illustration, an asteroid is shown in the lower left foreground. The two bright dots above on the far left are the Earth (right) and the Moon (left). The sun appears on the right.

NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/J. da Silva/space engine

Mysterious oumuamua oblong object is likely to go down in the annals of science as the first known interstellar object to be spotted in our solar system, but it’s now clear that some of the cosmic rubble that hit our atmosphere a few years earlier also came from the planet. very deep space.

In 2019, two of the Harvard researchers who studied Oumuamua in depth wrote a new paper claiming that an extremely fast meteorite that blasted its way through the atmosphere in 2014 was also interstellar. The record of its impact and hints of its unusual origin had been hiding in plain sight in a NASA fireball database for years.

“Its high speed implies a possible origin from the deep interior of a planetary system or a star in the thick disk of the Milky Way galaxy,” reads the abstract of the paper by student Amir Siraj and by veteran astronomer Avi Loeb.

However, as Siraj recently told Vice, peer review and publication of the paper has been put on hold because the US military classified some of the data needed to confirm the scientists’ calculations.

This bureaucratic deadlock now seems to be broken.

An unusual memo from US Space Command to NASA’s chief scientist was shared via the USSC’s Twitter account last week after Deputy Commander Lt. Gen. John Shaw revealed its existence at the annual space science symposium. space in Colorado.

“Dr. Joel Mozer, Space Operations Command Chief Scientist … has reviewed the analysis of additional data available to the Department of Defense regarding this discovery,” the memo reads. “Dr. Mozer has confirmed that the velocity estimate reported to NASA is accurate enough to indicate an interstellar trajectory.”

It is estimated that the meteorite was relatively small, possibly about the size of a microwave. This means that the vast majority probably burned up in the atmosphere, and any remaining pieces fell into the Pacific Ocean.

Still, Siraj is investigating the possibility of searching for any remaining pieces on the ocean floor, which Loeb says could harbor evidence of life from other star systems.

“The reported meteor entered the solar system at a speed of 60 km/s [134,216 mph]”, Loeb told me in 2019. “Such a high ejection velocity can only be produced in the innermost cores of planetary systems – inside Earth’s orbit around a star like the sun, but within the habitable zone of dwarf stars, allowing these objects to carry life from their home planets.”

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Since then, Loeb has become a controversial figure in scientific circles for arguing that the “simplest explanation” for Oumuamua’s origin is that she was created by extraterrestrial intelligence.

This is a hypothesis that will be difficult to prove, because Oumuamua is currently moving away from us in deep space. Similarly, the odds of finding a meteorite spot on the ocean floor are about as good as waiting for ET to show up at Harvard in person.

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