"`Oumuamua 1i 2017 U1" by Interpott.nrw Unser Kosmos / CC BY-SA 4.0

The First Known Interstellar Meteor May Have Hit Earth in 2014

Apr 17, 2019

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.

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One comment on “The First Known Interstellar Meteor May Have Hit Earth in 2014”

  • 1
    Michael 100 says:

    “You can imagine that if these meteors were ejected from the habitable zone of a star, they could help transfer life from one planetary system to another,” Loeb said.  

    Loeb is, Avi Loeb, the chair of astronomy at Harvard University.

    To me, key words here are “imagine”, and “could”.  This is interesting because of what I’m reading now in Darwin’s Dangerous Idea by Daniel C. Dennett.  In chapter 11, section 1 A CLUTCH OF HARMLESS HERESIES, Dr. Dennett discusses panspermia, an idea he said was championed by Fred Hoyle.  Although it’s obvious that Dennett doesn’t like the idea, he writes:  

      “The reason orthodoxy prefers to assume a birthplace on Earth is that this is the simplest and most scientifically accessible hypothesis. That does not make it true. Whatever happened, happened. If Hoyle is right, then (darn it) we will find it much harder to confirm or disconfirm any detailed hypotheses about exactly how life started”

    Far be it from me to take issue with something said by someone such as Dr. Loeb, but I can see that life beginning here on our planet, even if it began elsewhere too, is a much simpler explanation.  On the other hand, maybe organic chemicals fell to earth via an asteroid impact.  I can’t believe that someone across the cosmos would have targeted our insignificant planet to seed their form of life. And, if organic chemicals could have developed on an asteroid, why not on our primitive planet? Surely, the early earth was just as hospitable as an asteroid traveling through outer space.   My impression is that Professor Dawkins doesn’t buy the idea either, but I’d be interested to know what other readers of this site have to say about the idea of panspermia.

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