February 13, 2021
Extraterrestrial. By Avi Loeb. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 240 pages; $ 27. John Murray; £ 20
THE OBJECT came from deep space, from the direction of Vega, a star 25 light years away. It crossed the orbital plane of the solar system, in which the Earth and the other planets orbit the sun, on September 6, 2017. Now under the influence of the sun’s gravity, the object has accelerated to around 200,000 mph as he made his closest approach. to the star on September 9. Its trajectory then took it out of the solar system. A month after the object’s arrival, it was well on its way back to interstellar space, heading towards the constellation Pegasus.
As it catapulted the sun and began to move away, no one on Earth had any idea of the object’s existence. Astronomers at the Haleakala Observatory in Maui didn’t discover it until October 19; he was hidden in the data collected by their array of telescopes, like a point of light that has traveled too fast to be trapped by the sun’s gravity. They gave it a name: “Oumuamua.
In the weeks following this discovery, astronomers quickly confirmed that ‘Oumuamua (which loosely means “scout” in …
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