The Atlantic

An Interstellar Tourist Barrels Through the Solar System

Astronomers describe what it's like to chart the first confirmed object from outside our home in the cosmos.
Source: ESO / M. Kornmesser

Nobody saw it coming.

The rocky object showed up in telescope images the night of October 19. The Pan-STARRS1 telescope, from its perch atop a Hawaiian volcano, photographed it during its nightly search for near-Earth objects, like comets and asteroids. Rob Weryk, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, was the first to lay eyes on it, as he sorted through the telescope’s latest haul. The object was moving “rapidly” across the night sky. Weryk thought it was probably a typical asteroid, drifting along in the sun’s orbit

“It was only when I went back and found

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