While we detect particles whizzing into our neighborhood from unimaginable distances, we’ve never confirmed observationally that anything big has come in from interstellar space, until now. In the last two months an object first thought to be a comet has turned out to be a rock coming from somewhere near Vega. It is traveling so fast that after passing the earth and the sun it is now departing even faster than it came in.
We’ll take a look at this object, how it was found, and what the analysis is telling us about it. It has long been assumed that objects like this must exist, our own solar system must have tossed out similar objects that went somewhere, but only modern survey telescopes and high sensitivity cameras made this discovery possible.
Image credit: NASA; Alan Fitzsimmons (ARC, Queen’s University Belfast), Isaac Newton Group
Observing with the SBO deck telescopes after the talk, weather permitting. Dress warm.
Alert on parking at CU Boulder!
The University has made some changes to the classification of the parking lot near Sommer-Bausch Observatory. Lot 419 that we have used for many years is no longer free after 5pm. We recommend using lot 308. Lot 308 is just west of Fiske Planetarium, which is still free and unrestricted after 5pm. You can park on the eastern side of 308, including the rows near section 305 which is metered.