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Section 5

An interstellar visitor…scientists have confirmed that an intriguing asteroid that zipped through our solar system in October is the first confirmed object from another star!

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New data reveal the interstellar interloper to be a rocky, cigar-shaped object with a somewhat reddish hue. Observations suggest that this unusual object had been wandering through the Milky Way, unattached to any star system, for hundreds of millions of years before its chance encounter with our star system. The asteroid is up to one-quarter mile (400 meters) long and highly-elongated—perhaps 10 times as long as it is wide. While its elongated shape is quite surprising, and unlike asteroids seen in our solar system, it may provide new clues into how other solar systems formed. Two of our space telescopes (@NASAHubble and Spitzer) are tracking the object the week of Nov. 20. As of Monday, the asteroid is travelling about 85,700 miles per hour (38.3 kilometers per second) relative to the Sun. Credit: European Southern Observatory/M. Kornmesser
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