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arXiv:1904.07224 [astro-ph.EP]AbstractReferencesReviewsResources

Discovery of a Meteor of Interstellar Origin

Amir Siraj, Abraham Loeb

Published 2019-04-15Version 1

The first interstellar object, `Oumuamua, was discovered in the Solar System by Pan-STARRS in 2017, allowing for a calibration of the abundance of interstellar objects of its size $\sim 100\;$ m. One would expect a much higher abundance of smaller interstellar objects, with some of them colliding with Earth frequently enough to be noticeable. Based on the CNEOS catalog of bolide events, we identify the $\sim 0.45$m meteor detected at 2014-01-08 17:05:34 UTC as originating from an unbound hyperbolic orbit with an asymptotic speed of $v_{\infty} \sim 43.8\; \mathrm{km \; s^{-1}}$ outside of the solar system. Its origin is approximately towards R.A. 3h24m and declination $+10.4^{\circ}$, implying that its initial velocity vector was $\sim 60\; \mathrm{km\;s^{-1}}$ away from the velocity of the Local Standard of Rest (LSR). Its high LSR speed implies a possible origin from the deep interior of a planetary system or a star in the thick disk of the Milky Way galaxy. The local number density of its population is $10^{6{^{+0.75}_{-1.5}}} \; \mathrm{AU^{-3}}$ or $9 \times 10^{21{^{+0.75}_{-1.5}}} \; \mathrm{pc^{-3}}$ (necessitating 0.2 - 20 Earth masses of material to be ejected per local star). This discovery enables a new method for studying the composition of interstellar objects, based on spectroscopy of their gaseous debris as they burn up in the Earth's atmosphere.

Comments: 4 pages, 2 figures; submitted to ApJ
Categories: astro-ph.EP
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