The Atlantic

The Story of the Interstellar Space Rock Isn’t Over Yet

Astronomers have some new information about ‘Oumuamua—and it makes tracing its origins even harder.
Source: NASA

If you’ve been walking around thinking that the mysterious, interstellar space rock that astronomers discovered last year is an asteroid, I have some news for you: It’s probably a comet.

There is, of course, the chance that you haven’t been thinking about this space rock, or know the difference between a comet or an asteroid, or why any of it matters. So let’s return to October 2017, when an astronomer named Rob Weryk was looking at the observations recorded by a telescope perched on top of a volcano in Hawaii.

Weryk’s job, as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, is to sort through the telescope’s nightly observations and identify objects passing near Earth. During one of his data

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic5 min read
The Fury of the Prep-School Parents
An elite-college education is one of the few expensive things that is for sale, but that not everyone is allowed to buy.
The Atlantic3 min readPolitics
The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: And Then There Were 10
Tomorrow there will be ... 10 more Democratic 2020 candidates sharing a debate stage. Plus: How a home-goods company got tangled up in the migrant-detention crisis.
The Atlantic4 min readPolitics
Trump Takes A Back Seat To Policy At The Democratic Debate
The president dominates every aspect of American politics, but you wouldn’t have known that from watching the first batch of candidates Wednesday night.