An interstellar object called ‘Oumuamua has confounded astronomers ever since it passed through our solar system in October of last year.
Scientists initially thought that the object — the first-ever visitor from another solar system spotted by Earth-based telescopes — was a comet. Later, they considered it an asteroid and even later described it as a possibly comet-like icy body with a rocky crust.
Now, scientists have found that in addition to its confusing appearance, ‘Oumuamua — an up to 1,300-foot-long (400 meters), cucumber-shaped object — likely has a rather dramatic history.
When astronomers from Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland observed the changes in the object’s brightness, they found that it is not spinning regularly, like the majority of known asteroids and small bodies in the solar system do. Rather, it is chaotically tumbling.