OUMUAMUA UPDATE: IT’S A COMET, NO, AN ASTEROID, NO, A COMET, NO, ...

A few days ago I mentioned the comet, or rather, asteroid, Oumuamua in one of my blogs about space matters. (See NASA’S NEW ASTEROID DEFENSE PLAN). Why the hesitation over what the strange object is? Well, in my blog, I referred to it as a comet. Almost as soon as the blog was posted, I began to get articles from well-intentioned readers, stating that it was - no, not a comet - but an asteroid. I was just about to post a "Tidbit" correcting the error, when more articles began to arrive: no, it was not an asteroid, it was a comet all along.

Well, so much for posting a note about the error.

Then, amid the growing pile of emails in my inbox folder about Oumuamua, I found this, shared by Mr. J.T, which "clarified" the issue:

Scientists just changed their mind about that ‘Alien Probe’ asteroid again

So, that's why I was confused; I was confused, because scientists themselves are confused:

The bizarre interstellar visitor that whizzed through our Solar System late last year stunned scientists the world over. The object, named Oumuamua snuck up out of nowhere, cruising around the Sun and then slingshotting back out into space before most astronomers even knew what to make of it. Its strange shape and odd coloring were so strange that some researchers thought it might have been an alien probe checking us out.

Once that was put to rest, one of the more humorous twists to the story was the repeated flip-flopping of scientists who couldn’t decide whether it was a comet or an asteroid. It was initially thought to be a comet, but its lack of an iconic tail suggested otherwise. So, it was an asteroid, at least for a little while, but subsequent rounds of research suggested it was a comet again… then an asteroid, again. Now, yet another study has been published in Nature and, well, it’s definitely a comet. Again.

The new paper, which was led by an astronomer with the European Space Agency (ESA), takes a close look at the strange visitor as it speeds away from our Solar System. The data reveals that the object is speeding up as it exits our neighborhood, which shouldn’t be possible if it were just a rocky asteroid being flung by gravity.

Instead, the researchers say, the object being a comet would explain its acceleration. The idea being that gasses heated during Oumuamua’s close brush with our Sun are actually pushing it faster and faster, matching what we know about comets.

So, because it lacked the typical tail of comets jetting into the solar system, it was a mere asteroid. But because it has gasses jetting out of it as if flies away from the Sun, it's a comet again.

I get it! I understand! Yea, sure! It's a comet! I'm so relieved!

Except, wait a minute... shouldn't those same gasses have been jetting out of the object as it approached the Sun and heated up? And shouldn't the trees grow taller too, in a natural selection response to the giraffes growing longer necks in natural selection to reach the leaves?  Wait a minute, isn't that kind of a circular argument? (Remember that one?)

Well, yes, the lack of a comet tail coming into the solar system, meant it was an asteroid. But the evidence of out-gassing on the way out of the solar system means it's a comet, notwithstanding that the gas was apparently not turned on during the inbound flight of the comet...er... asteroid. Maybe it's an astercometoid.

Now, as you can tell, I'm having a bit of fun with this one, because the article itself mentions the problem that is posed, and where most scientists "don't want to go." In fact, it even mentions the fact that some scientists were trying to communicate with the object, given its other bizarre behavior. They were willing to entertain the "impossible," that it was an interstellar probe of some sort:

Strange tumbling motion of cigar-shaped interstellar 'comet' Oumuamua suggests it’s an alien probe with BROKEN engines, says leading astronomer

Ahhh!  So there we go... they tried listening for signals, but there was nothing. No signals, no out-gassing, just a long cylindrical rocky object tumbling end over end... until it seems to have started out-gassing again... one wonders which of the ends that out-gassing is coming out of, perhaps both?(That would be very un-cometlike, and for that matter, very un-asteroidish. In fact, it's very un-comet-like and un-asteroidish to have no tail coming in, but one going out.).

In fact, that tumbling action, for such a shaped object, might indicate some prior impact that set it tumbling...

So, yea, I'll say it...

...maybe someone turned on the engines again...

(Oh, just in case, they've got a theory for that unusual out-gassing too, and you'll love it too: its dust is simply "bigger":

Interstellar Comet ‘Oumuamua Has a Built-In 'Propulsion' System)

... See you on the flip side...

21 thoughts on “ OUMUAMUA UPDATE: IT’S A COMET, NO, AN ASTEROID, NO, A COMET, NO, ...”

  1. i’m betting comets and asteroids are the same thing. the acceleration on exit is due to electromag interaction just as the plasma coming off the sun going out into the heliosphere accelerates as it goes. also there are no gas jets being activated by heat. there are in fact electromagnetic charges being exchanged which leads to flaring. also splains why and wherefore of sometimes flaring on way in sometimes way out and in no way based on temperature changes from convection from sun.

  2. Read “Rendezvous with RAMA”. This thing is exactly like RAMA in Clarke’s book. I bet these things come by periodically and this is just the first one they have told us about. Clarke may have written about some thing he knew to be real.

  3. A completely brainwashed generation that still fantasizes about space and the presumption they understand it as it was shown on TV. Everything you understand about space, even ancient astronaut stories “translated” from Sumerian has been scripted to fit the mold of your non-responsibility for your home, from literally what you are. Keep dreaming Baby Boomers.

  4. Something almost no one talks about is how we “know” what we “know” about Oumuamua. Pretty much everything you’ve heard about it is complete and total speculation – high-octane speculation if you will.

    First, there is exactly zero difference between an asteroid and a comet, other than whether it is moving parallel or perpendicular to the Sun’s magnetic field.

    Second, the only things actually measured about Oumuamua is it’s light curve and albedo. There are no visible or RADAR images of the object. All that was seen was a light curve that rose and fell chaotically, leading to the ASSUMPTION that it was “cigar shaped and tumbling”. The albedo was very dim, leading to the ASSUMPTION that it was a very dark red color.

    Third, no out-gassing has been observed from the object. This ASSUMPTION was made because the object made several tiny course adjustments on the way in, and is noted to be accelerating on the way out. The only way for the latter to be true is to throw all the dirty snowball theories in the trash, which should have happened the instant Rosetta reached P67.

    There are ONLY two conclusions that can be made, given what we ACTUALLY know about Oumuamua:
    1) it is an electrically charged object interacting with the Sun’s electro-magnetic field, or
    2) it is a self-guided object.

    All other “known facts” about Oumuamua are completely and totally speculative and are ad hoc attempts to match the data with something we think we understand.

    The color could be explained by either a coating of dark hydrocarbons, or stealth design. The orbital motions could be explained by either perturbations in the Sun’s electro-magnetic sheath, or due to intelligent steering. The acceleration could be explained either by the same mechanism that causes the solar wind to accelerate the further it gets from the Sun, or by hitting the engines and skedaddling out of here.

    We have no actual idea what shape or color it is from existing data, only models that at least partially account for the actual metrics.

    In summary, Oumuamua could be an asteroid/comet (no difference), or a probe, with equal weight on either conclusion based on what we ACTUALLY know about it. The former conclusion blows our entire “dirty snowball” theories to Hades, and the latter gets REALLY fun!

    In either case, all “science” reporters should immediately be fired for regurgitating press releases without any critical thinking, and the “professionals” behind the press releases should be laughed out of the science business – with emphasis on the “business” part..

    1. nice. agreed. adding: the darkened surfaced might be caused by repeated blasts of plasma as electical charges are exchanged between comet/asteroid and sun as it moves in and out of the range of the sun.

    2. There is a difference between what we know and
      those in the know know.
      Even within that smoke & mirrors secretive group,
      the information in stovepiped on a need to know basis.

  5. . . . If one may be so bold, perhaps some clarification on the previous commentary on that transiting object named Oumuamua. . . . . . . By-By-Ou-Mua-Mua. . . By-By-Ou-Mua-Mua. . . . . .

    1. modded again

      occams razor or some such?

      when simple ideas splain the most complex ideas the most comprehensively,…. they might be the most accurate model of reality so far posed.

      what was that again? all models are inaccurate. some are useful.

      hint: comets are electric (not dirty snowballs nor interplanetary probes)
      www dot thunderbolts dot info
      www dot utube dot com /channel/UCvHqXK_Hz79tjqRosK4tWYA
      www dot utube dot com /watch?v=2OgvFaDulbQ

  6. Good article, plus lots of intelligent and fun comments:
    “Visitor from another solar system accelerated away from the Sun”
    https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/06/visitor-from-another-solar-system-may-have-been-a-comet/

    I touched on this in a long-ago comment, but when Tiamat went kablooey there were probably loads of ships, space stations, Hubbles, etc., orbiting the planet. Many utterly destroyed, many damaged – and some flung into various orbits including nearly hyperbolic. Likely covered with debris…

    So, our comet/asteroid/alien-visitor may not be any of those. It may be a damaged automated ship trying its best to get back to its home planet. (Sad…)

    1. Allied thought: If the Tiamatians had set up an outer Solar System resource-extraction ’empire’ (mining, etc.), they would have probably set up slingshot ships to transfer cargo most efficiently:

      You expend massive energy to ‘drop’ from Pluto or Kuiper/Oort orbit to Tiamat vicinity. So, you don’t stop the ship at Tiamat; you kick-out the cargo for pickup (with or without internal retro-propulsion) as you loop past Tiamat, and let your velocity carry your cargo-transport back to your origin. New cargo matches speed with the ship and is attached. And repeat endlessly. An automated ship might never ‘touch down’, once it begins its service.

      So, what happens in a pre-programmed, automated ship such as this, when its destination-planet ‘vanishes’ en-route?

  7. To me the difference between a asteroid and comet is orbit. One space debris of a exploded planet in the planetary orbit. Second debris that escaped the planetary orbit but both made of the same materials. If Oumuamua is an alien probe it would be on silent running listening not transmitting unless it a list of Earth agents with the right transmission code to make contact with.

  8. It’s bird, it’s plan, it’s a…
    Wait I’m getting the answer from the Ministry of truth.
    Now get the press chorus ready to sing it in sync all across the globe.

    1. I’m surprised they didn’t shoot the bird.
      I mean plane.
      At least they’re shooting truths wherever they appear in the public domain.
      Because, virtually worldwide is this elitist government poster…
      Public, Enemy #1.
      I

  9. Farmers occasionally drive by their fields in order to determine when they are ripe for harvest…
    I’ve often wondered what they discovered when they “checked out” the Black Knight, one would think that they did, as it truly appears to be a really odd rock.

    1. I’ve read may things about, “Black Knight”, but have never found any good info from sources that I consider “vetted.”

      Links?

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