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An Interstellar Meteor May Have Hit Earth

Published by Slashdot on Sun, 21 Apr 2019


Two Harvard researchers believe a small meteor that struck earth in 2014 was from another solar system, saying it's "like getting a message in a bottle from a distant location." CNN reports:Dr. Abraham Loeb, the chair of the Department of Astronomy at Harvard University, and his co-author Amir Siraj, studied the velocity of objects entering the Earth's atmosphere, which can be used to predict whether the object was traveling in relation to our sun's orbit... Of the three fastest objects on record, the fastest was clearly bound to our sun. The third-fastest couldn't be clearly categorized. But the second-fastest, Loeb says, bore all the hallmarks of being literally out of this solar system. "At this speed, it takes tens of thousands of years for a object to move from one star to another," he says. Since they don't know exactly where it originated, they can't say exactly how old it is, but it could be downright ancient. "To cross the galaxy it would take hundreds of millions of years." Of all of the possibilities wrapped up in this relatively small object, perhaps the most exciting is the idea that, theoretically, interstellar objects could carry life from other solar systems. "Most importantly, there is a possibility that life could be transferred between stars," Loeb says. "In principle, life could survive in the core of a rock. Either bacteria, or tardigrades (a microscopic, water-dwelling animal); they can survive harsh conditions in space and arrive right to us..." [A]lthough the object detailed in this paper is the first recorded interstellar meteor to hit Earth, the study estimates such objects enter earth's atmosphere every ten years or so, which means there could be a million different interstellar objects floating around our solar system, just waiting to be examined.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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