Canadian scientist Robert Weryk has spotted something ‘really weird’ within the orbit of Mercury while examining the images of near-Earth objects. “It is not an alien,” he reassured. But what is it?
The object, which was discovered by Robert Weryk at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy on October 19, was first believed to be a comet. Now researchers think it is actually an asteroid.
However, what makes the object unique is that scientists believe it has travelled to our solar system “from beyond.”
“At first it was a ‘that’s weird,’ and then we want to double-check the data,” Weryk told to CBC News. “But once we had confirming images from a colleague, we were pretty confident that this was coming from outside the solar system.”
The astronomer explained how he understood it: an object would need to move at around 42 kilometers per second if it is bound in an orbit around the sun at Earth’s distance. This thing, however, was travelling at 44 kilometers per second. Additionally, it appeared that the trajectory of the object “was more than enough to resist the gravitational pull of the sun.”
Weryk shared his revelation with one of his previous astronomy and physics professors from Western University, Peter Brown, who specializes in meteor physics, who confirmed that “astronomers have been looking for this for more than a century.”
Brown, however, noted that the object which was codenamed A/2017 U1 “could still be something else.”
It could have only been observed for just over a week, and is expected to leave our solar system within a few days.