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Big space news recently as the first ever confirmed interstellar object passing through our solar system has been spotted! "Discovered on 19 October this year by Rob Weryk, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy," the apparent interstellar asteroid was named 'Oumuamua
, "which means
'a messenger from afar arriving first' in Hawaiian."
'Oumuamua tore into our system at nearly a perpendicular angle, traveling at up to 87.7 km/s as it whipped around the Sun; its estimated velocity as it came into our system was over 26 km/s--for comparison, typical comets in our system travel at a mere 3 km/s. 'Oumuamua's velocity is sufficient to escape the Sun's pull and return to interstellar space travel after its slingshot around our star. Its speed, steep approach angle, and the very wide arc it was describing mean that it could only have come from outside the solar system.
Although too small for any human device to capture a detailed view of it, 'Oumuamua was confirmed to be of a light reddish color, as is not uncommon in some of our system's native asteroids. But readings indicate that it is rotating rapidly and is unusually elongated, with dimensions in the ratio of at least 5.3:1, which equals the most elongated objects seen before in our system; its dimensions are estimated at 180x30x30m.
As the first known interstellar object seen in our system, a whole new space object classification had to be created: "I" for "interstellar." 'Oumuamua's designation is thus 1I. It is also the first of a new class of asteroids: hyperbolic asteroids.