A new finding took place lately which left astronomers stunned -- the first-ever interstellar comet dubbed A/2017 U1, which was initially designated C/2017 U1, was spotted by scientists on October 18.
The comet is 160 meters (525 feet) in diameter as per the calculation of Gareth Williams, the Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center's associate director. Spotted by researchers using Pan-STARRS telescope, it was seen having an extreme orbit which is on a hyperbolic trajectory that doesn't seem to be bound to Sun. Hence, researchers concluded that the celestial body has travelled from outer space.
According to one of the speculations made by astronomers, there are chances that this comet might have moved away from its original orbit and passed by our planet for the first and last time.
"If further observations confirm the unusual nature of this orbit, this object may be the first clear case of an interstellar comet," Williams was quoted as saying by Daily Star.
"Further observations of this object are very much desired. Unless there are serious problems with much of the astrometry listed below, strongly hyperbolic orbits are the only viable solutions. If further observations confirm the unusual nature of this orbit, this object may be the first clear case of an interstellar comet," Williams added.
The real character of this celestial body became clearer after Karen Meech at the University of Hawaii recorded a series of images using Very Large Telescope and the body turned out to be a perfect star-like object. Hence it was categorised as an interstellar asteroid instead of a comet and was re-named A/2017 U1 by MPC officials, Sky and Telescope reported.
Is comet #C2017U1 a visitor from another solar system? Here's a simulation of its current nominal orbit. This simulation will run in your browser.— Tony Dunn (@tony873004) October 25, 2017
Watch how fast it moves compared to a few other 2017 comet discoveries. pic.twitter.com/cq7U5eYKOu
Apart from this unique astronomical event, the other ones that took place this October include the close flybys of asteroids which buzzed past Earth. Four asteroids brushed past Earth within a span of 24 hours on October 25 and it was a close encounter.
As per the revelations made by NASA's Close Approaches page, two asteroids -- 2017 TL4 and 2017 UG3 -- flew by our planet. 2017 TL4 flew past Earth at 9.47 pm BST, while 2017 UG3 flew by at 9.48 pm BST.
The other pair of space rocks which brushed past Earth are 2017 UH and 2017 UE3. They passed by Earth at 5.22 pm BST and 2017 UE3 flew by eight minutes later at 5.30 pm on October 25.
Other than these four close asteroid flybys, two more had taken place this month, one was dubbed 2012 TC4, which flew past Earth on October 12. A week later asteroid 2017 TD6 had jazzed by Earth closely.
Though these space rocks were described as near-Earth asteroids by the astronomers they were not defined as dangerous. But the astronomers did reveal that asteroid 2012 TC4 is likely to get closer to Earth than the lunar proximity, which makes it a cause for concern in the asteroid community.