(PresidentialInsider.com)- The US Space Command has confirmed the findings from astronomers at Harvard who found that a meteor that struck the earth in January 2014 originated from outside of our solar system.
Harvard astronomers Amir Siraj and Abraham Loeb determined that the velocity and trajectory of the 2014 meteor suggested the space rock was “extrasolar” in origin. Siraj and Loeb made the case for the extrasolar origin of the meteor in a 2019 paper that was posted to the scientific preprint server ArXiv. However, the pair were unable to get the paper published in a peer-reviewed journal because the paper relied on data from some sensors used by the Department of Defense.
After the discovery that the large, elongated asteroid Oumuamua that passed through the solar system was determined to be of interstellar origin, Siraj and Loeb began combing historical data from NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) for evidence of small meteors that could also have come from outside the solar system before burning up in the Earth’s atmosphere.
One of the meteors they found generated a fireball near Papua New Guinea on January 8, 2014. CNEOS data indicated it came from a small meteor that was traveling unusually fast, an indication that it originated from outside our solar system.
After crunching the numbers, Siraj and Loeb concluded with 99.999 percent confidence that the meteor was interstellar in origin. But even that margin of error wasn’t enough to get their paper through the peer-review process because it required data from NASA sensors that are also used by the Defense Department to monitor for fireballs created by nuclear blasts.
But last Wednesday, Space Command issued a memo confirming Siraj and Loeb’s findings.
This pushes back the date of the first confirmed discovery of an extrasolar meteor by three years. It raises the possibility, however remote, that fragments of the meteor could be collected from the location where it exploded. It also suggests that extrasolar space rocks may be a common occurrence in our solar system.