That’s no starship … or asteroid: Hubble hints that interstellar object is a comet


News brief: Observations made by the Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based observatories indicate that the cigar-shaped interstellar object known as ‘Oumuamua got an unexpected boost in speed and a shift in its trajectory as it passed through the inner solar system last year. Scientists surmise that the source of the boost was an outflow of gas and dust from ‘Oumuamua, which suggests that the object is more like an active comet than a passive asteroid. The analysis is published in this week’s issue of the journal Nature. Last year, ‘Oumuamua’s weird shape led some wags to wonder whether the object was a starship — and the newly published research just might spark a renewed outflow of gassy speculation.

For details about the findings, check out the Nature news report and the research paper, titled “Non-Gravitational Acceleration in the Trajectory of 1I/2017 U1 (‘Oumuamua).” NASA will host a Reddit Ask Me Anything about the `Oumuamua observations from 1 to 3 p.m. PT Thursday. To participate, go to

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