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The recent discovery of interstellar objects

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by shunyadragon, Oct 22, 2019.

  1. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon Veteran Member
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    The discovery of two interstellar objects has brought a new era to astronomy, but with new discoveries there comes the rush of conspiracy theories, extraterrestrial voodoo, and other non-science nonsense based on vague 'arguments from ignorance' resulting 'we do not know, therefore . .

    I do not consider the discovery of the two interstellar objects as earth shaking or mysterious as many claim. They have been predicted to exist and it is in recent years that we have the technology to discover them and track them.

    The first is an interstellar asteroid of unknown origin and is likely a wandering remnant of a deceased solar system. It is apparently of mixed materials of different densities.

    The second is a comet from another star and can likely be traced to the star of origin. There will likely be more discovered.

    Interstellar comet 2I/Borisov comes from a binary star 13 light-years away, say astronomers – Physics World

    Interstellar comet 2I/Borisov comes from a binary star 13 light-years away, say astronomers
    11 Oct 2019
    [​IMG]
    Coming into focus: 2I/Borisov appears as a blur of light in this telescope image, but astronomers are learning more about interstellar object every day. (Courtesy: IAU)

    Comet 2I/Borisov, recently confirmed as a visitor from interstellar space, could have its origin in a star system 13 light-years away, say astronomers. Extrapolating from the relatively scant orbital parameters determined so far, and accounting for the gravitational effects of hundreds of nearby stars, astronomers in Poland have projected the comet’s path back in time. They found that, about one million years ago, 2I/Borisov and the double star system Kruger 60 passed within a few light-years of each other at a very low relative velocity. Observations of the comet as it travels through the solar system will improve our understanding of its orbit and allow the astronomers to test their hypothesis more thoroughly."

    Not counting cosmic dust grains found on Earth and captured in space, 2I/Borisov is only the second interstellar object that we know of. The first was the pencil-shaped body named ‘Oumuamua, which was spotted shooting through the solar system in September 2017. ‘Oumuamua caused great excitement when it was first discovered and some astronomers even speculated that it could be some sort of alien spacecraft. While that hypothesis has been discounted, much about this object remains a mystery. It was already heading away from the Sun when it was first spotted, so there was little time for detailed observations. Although some outgassing was inferred from unexpected changes in its orbit, it stubbornly refused to emit anything that could be measured directly.

    This time things are different with 2I/Borisov. Discovered at the end of August 2019, 2I/Borisov is still on the inbound leg of its trajectory, and it will not reach perihelion (its closest approach to the Sun) until early December. This means that astronomers will have a year or so in which to make observations, and some of these will be measurements of the comet’s orbit with a view to determining its origin. In a preprint posted on the arXiv preprint server, Piotr Dybczyński, and colleagues Adam Mickiewicz University and the Space Research Center of the Polish Academy of Sciences report the first such study.

    Complex problem
    “Starting with the current position of 2I/Borisov, we traced its motion backwards, looking for a star that appeared to be close to it and with a small relative velocity,” says Dybczyński. This is more challenging than it sounds, however. The comet, the Sun, and every other star in the Milky Way pursue their own individual orbits around the galactic centre, with the path of each body influenced by the gravity of all of the others. Add in the fact that 2I/Borisov’s orbit is still relatively undetermined, and that the stars’ distances and motions are known only imprecisely, and the problem quickly becomes complex.

    READ MORE
    [​IMG]
    ‘Oumuamua: visitor from another star

    Dybczyński and colleagues modelled 2I/Borisov’s route through space under the gravitational influence of 648 star systems—including the Sun—that they identified as being close enough to affect it. A co-orbiting pair of red dwarf stars known collectively as Kruger 60 emerged as a potential home system for the comet. A series of 10,000 simulations, in which the astronomers varied the comet’s orbital parameters and Kruger 60’s location and velocity, suggested a closest approach of 5.7 light-years at a low relative velocity of 3.4 km/s.

    Given this distance is somewhat greater than than the distance to the nearest star (Proxima Centauri just 4.22 light-years away), Kruger 60 might seem an unlikely source for the comet. According to Dybczyński, however, some residual uncertainties mean it is still a reasonable proposal. For one thing, says Dybczyński, the Solar System’s cometary cloud is believed to extend beyond 1.5 light-years and because Kruger 60 is a double system, its own cometary cloud (if it exists) might be larger. He also points out that our current knowledge of Kruger 60’s kinematics is poor.

    The claim finds cautious support from Alan Fitzsimmons of Queen’s University Belfast, UK, who was not involved in the study. “The small velocity of the comet relative to Kruger 60 when it passed it is certainly suggestive of possible association,” says Fitzsimmons, “but the current miss distance, if true, would rule out an origin at that star. Yet it is still a contender, as our knowledge of the trajectory of 2I/Borisov is still evolving.” He also points out that any estimates of the comet’s past trajectory will have to be reconsidered if its current orbit is found to be affected by outgassing.

    .'
     
    #1 shunyadragon, Oct 22, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2019
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  2. Ouroboros

    Ouroboros Coincidentia oppositorum
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    It's the protomolecule delivery...
     
  3. sun rise

    sun rise "Let there be peace and love among all"
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    I don't follow this area as closely as I might, but it's interesting.
     
  4. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Greased up & ready for action!
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    Uh oh.
     
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  5. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon Veteran Member
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    Though I disagree with the caption on the picture that describes ‘Oumuamua: visitor from another star'. It's path indicates it is a loner wandering through our galaxy, and its star of origin most likely no longer exists.
     
  6. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon Veteran Member
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    It apparently left without leaving anything behind.
     
  7. Ouroboros

    Ouroboros Coincidentia oppositorum
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    As we know of... ;)
     
  8. David J

    David J Member

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    I'm not sure if it's possible to trace the origins, too many variables.
     
  9. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon Veteran Member
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    As far as the asteroid 1I/Oumuamua you are correct, because it has a hyperbolic orbit? path, which is too gradual a curved path to trace it origins. One problem is we discovered it late, and do not know the path as it approached our solar system. The problem here is not too many variables, but a lack of information. This is the reason I consider 1I/Oumuamua a wandering remnant of a long dead solar system.

    The comet 2I/Borisov it has a parabolic path like other comets related to its star of origin, which likely can be most likely traced to the star of origin. By the time 2I/Borisov leaves our solar system we will have more information about its path and nature.
     
    #9 shunyadragon, Oct 22, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2019
  10. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon Veteran Member
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    The best review of the current information on 'Oumuamua' is the Wikipedia article and I recommend those interested read it as a reference with a good bibliography.

    From: ʻOumuamua - Wikipedia

    ʻOumuamua appears to have come from roughly the direction of Vega in the constellation Lyra.[45][46][51][52] The incoming direction of motion of ʻOumuamua is 6° from the solar apex (the direction of the Sun's movement relative to local stars), which is the most likely direction for approaches from objects outside the Solar System.[51][53] On 26 October, two precovery observations from the Catalina Sky Survey were found dated 14 and 17 October.[54][43] A two-week observation arc had verified a strongly hyperbolic trajectory.[7][40] It has a hyperbolic excess velocity (velocity at infinity, {\displaystyle v_{\infty }\!}[​IMG]) of 26.33 km/s (94,800 km/h; 58,900 mph), its speed relative to the Sun when in interstellar space.[e]

    ʻBy mid-November, astronomers were certain that it was an interstellar object.[56] Based on observations spanning 34 days, ʻOumuamua's orbital eccentricity is 1.20, the highest ever observed[57][10] until 2I/Borisov was discovered in August 2019. An eccentricity exceeding 1.0 means an object exceeds the Sun's escape velocity, is not bound to the Solar System and may escape to interstellar space. While an eccentricity slightly above 1.0 can be obtained by encounters with planets, as happened with the previous record holder, C/1980 E1,[57][58][g] ʻOumuamua's eccentricity is so high that it could not have been obtained through an encounter with any of the planets in the Solar System. Even undiscovered planets in the Solar System, if any should exist, could not account for ʻOumuamua's trajectory nor boost its speed to the observed value. For these reasons, ʻOumuamua can only be of interstellar origin.[59][60]
     
  11. David J

    David J Member

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    The article you cited said it's a complex problem, which I agree. Let's leave it at that.

    Not trying to be argumentative, but what is a dead solar system?
     
  12. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon Veteran Member
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    Actually emphasizing that it is 'complex problem' does not reflect the overall article, which is far more comprehensive as far as the Cosmology of the known extrastellar objects.

    As more information concerning interstellar objects increase it cannot be left at that.

    If you read the article it describes the track of 'Oumuamua' as coming from a region of space with no sof possible origin. It is the location near the present star Vega, bit tracking back in time there were no stars there at the time 'Oumuamua' would have been there. Because there is no known origin there are several scenarios, and one is that it is a loner from a solar system where the star exploded or a planet broke up or disrupted and 'Oumuamua' is an expelled remnant.

    From: Interstellar Comet ’Oumuamua Might Not Actually Be a Comet | Quanta Magazine

    "But of all the possible candidate star systems, none provided a match. ’Oumuamua’s trajectory was at least two light-years away from all the candidates anyway — too far for them to be its source. And if ’Oumuamua got launched hundreds of millions of years ago, all the local stars will have shifted quite a bit since then. “It’s unlikely you’d ever be able to track it back to a single individual parent system, which is a shame, but it’s just the way things are,” said Alan Jackson, an astronomer at the University of Toronto."

    Even though a 'complex problem' there is enough information to track the comet 2I/Borisov that has a parabolic comet orbit that can be traced to a region of potential stars of origin with a likely candidate.
     
  13. David J

    David J Member

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    We can't predict where a hurricane will land within days, you think this is anything easier?
     
  14. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon Veteran Member
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    Sort of way out there and off topic. Open a thread on weather hurricanes weather prediction fractal math and Chaos Theory and I will discuss it. Sort of one of my side specialties. By the way the record of prediction of hurricanes is better than you describe.

    Science whether prediction of hurricanes or the nature of interstellar objects is not described as the 'blue smoke and mirrors' of 'difficult problems' and that is all there is, or 'leave it at that.'
     
  15. David J

    David J Member

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    Weather.
    I think it's a humble analogy.
     
  16. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon Veteran Member
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    The analogy does not remotely apply. First, current weather prediction for 48 hours concerning the path and nature of hurricanes is very good, Indeed prediction is not as accurate and increases the longer the time span.the accuracy is limited.

    As far as extrastellar objects at present they are in the stage of gathering information about their paths and physical properties. Predictions are based on the available information. In this way the science is similar to hurricanes, as more information is collected the more accurate we can understand them.

    It is known that ʻ1/I Oumuamua' is an asteroid with a hyperbolic orbit of unknown origin (an orbit deflected by our sun and not associated with any other known star), and 2I/Borisov is a comet with a parabolic comet orbit originating from another star system. The problem at present is which star system, which scientists hope that can be determined as more information becomes available.
     
    #16 shunyadragon, Oct 26, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2019
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