Three years after a mysterious cigar-shaped interstellar object was spotted hurtling through our solar system, sparking questions of alien spaceships and solar sails, a new study suggests this visitor may actually have been the cosmic version of a massive iceberg, formed in the birthplace of stars out of frozen hydrogen gas.
‘Oumuamua was our first visitor from a different solar system, discovered while already on its way out of our system, and it defied the known rules for asteroids and comets. Its oblong shape was interesting, but most baffling was its speed, which was faster than should’ve been possible if it was being propelled through space purely by gravitational force…
“It’s a frozen iceberg of molecular hydrogen,” Darryl Seligman, one of the paper’s authors, told UChigcao News. “This explains every mysterious property about it.
Hydrogen gas is “the dominant constituent of Giant Molecular Clouds,” which are enormous clusters of gases spanning hundreds of light years in size.
The densest parts of these clouds are where stars are born. The temperatures within these dense cores can also be some of the coldest in the universe. The paper suggests that “macroscopic bodies composed of frozen molecular hydrogen gas that are not incorporated into stellar systems,” are then “released into low-velocity dispersion galactic orbits,” meaning that objects such as ‘Oumuamua are some of the leftovers from the process of creating stars.
And, now that we’re capable of seeing and tracking an interstellar body like this – we’ll be watching out for more.