The United States Space Command confirmed that a meteor that collided with Earth in 2014 was “interstellar.” The object, officially known as CNEOS 2014-01-08, landed off the coast of Papua New Guinea and was under investigation.
The theory was first tested by Amir Siraj and Abraham Loeb– two physicists at Harvard University– and was later verified by American authorities. The United States Space Command said that the two experts identified the meteor as “originating from an unbound hyperbolic orbit with 99.999% confidence.”
Dr. Joel Mozer, the chief scientist of the Space Operations Command, cross-checked the research paper by the two Harvard University physicists and “reviewed analysis of additional data from the Department of Defense.”
“Dr. Mozer confirmed that the velocity estimate reported to NASA is sufficiently accurate to indicate an interstellar trajectory”, a press release from the United States Space Command said.
“I thought that we would never learn the true nature of this meteor, that it was just blocked somewhere in the government after our many tries, and so actually seeing that letter from the Department of Defense with my eyes was a really incredible moment”, Siraj told CNN in a statement.
What is an interstellar object?
Any outerspace object that originates outside the solar system is usually defined as an interstellar object. Scientists often use the term to describe extra-planetary bodies like meteors, asteroids and other space rocks.
According to reports from CNN, the entry of an interstellar object into the solar system is a rare and once-in-a-lifetime event.
The story of Oumuamua
Oumuamua, an unusually shaped interstellar rock, was confirmed to be an interstellar object recently. However, some reports suggest that the rock, which is long and cigar-shaped, is actually a shard of a planet that exploded outside the solar system.
Oumuamua, which was named by a team of scientists that discovered the rock, is a Hawaiian word that roughly translates to “a messenger from afar arriving first.”