TEMPE, ARIZONA — Scientists believe they have determined the origin of the extrasolar object Oumuamua.
First observed from the Pan-STARRS astronomical observatory in Hawaii, Oumuamua means “scout” or “messenger” in Hawaiian.
Oumuamua resembles a comet but is sufficiently different to have sparked intense speculation as to its nature, including that it may be an alien spacecraft.
In a pair of papers published in the AGU Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, Arizona State University astronomers determined the 45-meter, or 148 foot, object appears to be made of frozen nitrogen, just like the surfaces of Pluto and Neptune’s moon, Triton.
The astrophysicists think Oumuamua likely ejected from the surface of a Pluto-like exoplanet during a collision half a billion years ago that sent it tumbling out toward our solar system.
SOURCES: Arizona State University, Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets