An ‘interstellar meteorite’ is a space rock. It originates outside our solar system, and it is rare. A recently released US Space Command Document says that researchers have discovered the first known interstellar meteorite has collided with the earth.
People know it as CNEOS 2014-01-08, and it crashed along the northeast coast of Papua New Guinea on January 8, 2014.
The result came out as a wonder to Amir Siraj. He recognized the body as an interstellar meteorite in a 2019 study he co-authored while studying at Harvard University.
Siraj was searching with Abraham Loeb. He was a science professor at Harvard University for Oumuamua, the first known interstellar object in our solar system found in 2017.
Siraj decided to go to for Near-Earth Object Studies database at NASA’s Center to find other interstellar objects. Further, he found what he believed to be an interstellar meteor within days.
The high speed of the meteorite is what initially caught the attention of Siraj.
The interstellar meteor moves at a high speed of about 28 miles per second relative to Earth, at about 18.6 miles per second around the Sun. Because the researchers measured how fast the meteorite was moving on a moving planet, 45 kilometers per second wasn’t how fast it was.
As per the definition of Heliocentric velocity, it is the speed of a meteor relative to the Sun. It is a more precise way of determining the orbit of an object. The basis for its calculation is the angle at which the meteor hits the Earth. The planet moves in a particular direction around the Sun. If the planet moves in the opposite direction or from behind, the Earth moves land in the same direction. Thus an interstellar meteorite can collided with the Earth from the front.
Since the meteor hit Earth from behind, calculations of Siraj said that the meteor had traveled at about 37.3 miles per second. That means 60 kilometers per second relative to the Sun.
He then determined the meteorite’s trajectory and found that it was in a free orbit instead of the closed orbit of other meteorites. Instead of orbiting the Sun, it came from outside the solar system like other meteorites.
Siraj said that another star supposedly produced it. It ejected it from that star’s planetary system. It just so happened to enter our solar system and collide with Earth.
Difficulty Of Posting
Loeb and Siraj could not publish their findings in a journal because their data comes from NASA’s CNEOS database. That does not reveal information such as the accuracy of the readings.
They tried for several years to get the necessary additional information. Finally, they received official confirmation. It was an interstellar meteorite from John Shaw, the US Space Command deputy commander. ‘The command’ is a part of the Department of Defense of the United States. It is liable for military operations in outer space.
Xu wrote in that letter about the finding. According to that, Dr. Joel Moser, chief scientist for ‘Space Operations Command’ ‘and the US Space Force service component of Space Command,’ reviewed the analysis of additional data available to the Department of Defense regarding the said finding. Dr. Moser emphasized that the ‘velocity estimate’ reported to NASA was authentic adequately to denote such an interstellar path.
Siraj worked on another ‘investigation’ and practically forgot about his ‘discovery.’ Accordingly, the document came as a shock.
Siraj said that he thought they would never know the true nature, which was banned somewhere by the government after many attempts. So seeing that message from the Ministry of Defense with his own eyes was a cool moment.
The Second Opportunity
Since receiving confirmation, Siraj said his team had been working to resubmit their findings for publication in a scientific journal.
Siraj would like to combine a team to recover part of the meteorite that fell into the Pacific Ocean. However, he admitted that it would be an unlikely prospect due to the project’s sheer scale.
Siraj said that researchers could get their hands on the holy grail of interplanetary bodies. If so, it would be a scientific pioneer in helping scientists to discover more about the world outside our solar system.
Both NASA and the US Space Command did not react initially for comment.