An interstellar meteorite crashed into Earth

The alien chunk was small, barely half a meter thick, but it streaked across the sky above Papua New Guinea at breakneck speed: the speed of what was likely the first known interstellar meteorite to hitting the earth in 2014 was 200,000 kilometers per hour. This is apparent from data just released by the US military, which the two astronomers Amir Siraj and Abraham Loeb of Harvard University published as part of a study.

It is possible that many interstellar objects were invited into the solar system

The speed and trajectory of the object suggest that it does not come from the solar system. This would make it the first piece of interstellar rock that humanity has consciously perceived, ahead of asteroid 1I/Oumuamua and comet 2I/Borrisov. At the same time, the frequent discovery of such visitors from deep space in recent years suggests that interstellar objects may be much more common than previously thought.

Impact recorded by military satellite

The fact that the find is known only now is due to the lack of confirmation of the data by the US military for a long time. The two astronomers came across the suspicious entry in a NASA meteorite database, as they reported to Vice magazine. Harvard student Amir Siraj was struck by the incredible speed with which the object entered Earth’s atmosphere. However, some data that could confirm the origin outside the solar system was missing. The US government initially classified this data as secret because it came from a nuclear weapon defense system. In the meantime, however, the US Space Command (USSC) has confirmed the researchers’ data and assumptions.

Researchers want to search for debris at the bottom of the Pacific

The meteorite likely fragmented further as it passed through the atmosphere. The chances of finding the debris on the Pacific floor are slim, according to Vice researchers. However, the possibility of being able to study an interstellar object in detail is extremely tempting. That’s why they want to at least discuss with their colleagues the options available to search the sea floor for the remnants of the meteorite.

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