The First Known Interstellar Meteor May Have Hit Earth in 2014

Artist’s concept of ‚Oumuamua, an interstellar object that was discovered zooming through our solar system in 2017. A new study determined that a small meteor that hit Earth in 2014 came from interstellar space as well. (Image: © K. Meech et al./ESO)
The 3-foot-wide rock visited us three years before ‚Oumuamua.

By Charles Q. Choi |

The first meteor to hit Earth from interstellar space — and the second known interstellar visitor overall — may have just been discovered, a new study finds.

Interstellar meteors may be common, and could potentially help life travel from star to star, researchers added.

The first known visitor from interstellar space, a cigar-shaped object named ‚Oumuamua, was detected in 2017. Scientists deduced the origins of the 1,300-foot-long (400 meters) object from its speed and trajectory, which suggests it may have come from another star, or perhaps two.

Avi Loeb, the chair of astronomy at Harvard University, noted that one would expect smaller interstellar visitors would be far more common, with some of them perhaps colliding with Earth often enough to be noticeable.

Now Loeb and study lead author Amir Siraj, an undergraduate student at Harvard University, suggested they may have detected one such interstellar meteor, the solar system’s second known interstellar visitor.

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