New Data Fuels Oumuamua Debate

The passing of Oumuamua through our solar system has sparked a number of debates, and some of them remain ongoing to this day. New data offers a fresh opportunity for discussions as it appears that the object isn’t made of molecular hydrogen ice, as it was previously thought.

An older study that imposed tight caps on the release of carbon-based molecules suggested that a hydrogen iceberg would have released pure hydrogen gas, which would have allowed it to escape detection. However, a different team of researchers wanted to know if a hydrogen iceberg could have made the journey through the solar system.

Clashing perspectives

The perspective offered by the older study seemed to be promising as it could have explained the unusual shape of the object and the remarkable gravitational acceleration. The main argument is that H2 ice could form in large molecular clouds.

If this approach is true, H2 ice objects should be present in the universe in an impressive amount and may also be used to explain some aspects of dark matter. However, some argued that it would be impossible for hydrogen icebergs to survive for hundreds of millions of years, as they would evaporate at some point.

Elusive origins

According to a researcher who contributed to the new study, the team surveyed the destruction of H2 ice exposed to a variety of factors, including radiation, interstellar gas, and cosmic rays. The most destructive effect was sublimation generated by the heat coming from a star.

As such, it is unlikely that Ouamuamua was coming from a giant molecular cloud since they are too distant, while also disproving a theory which proposed primordial ice agglomerations as a form of dark matter. For now, the elusive traits of the object make it hard to classify, and the new information adds new depth to the mystery

More information can be found in a paper published in a scientific journal.


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