Alan Jackson who is a Ph.D. researcher at the Centre for Planetary Sciences at the University of Toronto, the object being an asteroid was odd since, comets are easy to spot and that, solar system ejects comets higher than the number of ejected asteroids. The study has garnered worldwide headlines.
With a length of at least 1,300 feet (400 m), a diameter of 335 feet (100 m), and traveling at a blistering speed of 67,100 mph (30 km per second), at its closest it was about 20.5 million miles (33 million km) from Earth.
Astronomers first classified 'Oumuamua (Hawaiian for "scout") as a comet, but later observations didn't reveal the telltale signs, including clouds of dust or water vapor. This determination was made by looking at how efficiently a two-star system could eject an object like 'Oumuamua, as well as how common such systems are.
The team suggests that the asteroid was very likely to have been ejected from its binary system sometime during the formation of that system's planets.
Close binary star systems may be the source of the majority of interstellar objects out there, both icy comets and rocky asteroids, according to the researchers. That's because such a feat would require gravitational interactions with a planet the size of Saturn or larger, something present in only about 10% of single-star solar systems near us in the Milky Way.
The latter is most likely the answer, according to a study recently published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
'Oumuamua binary system origins teased in latest interstellar object study
However, it did not show any comet-like activity as it neared the Sun and was quickly reclassified as an asteroid, meaning it was rocky.
In this context, the researchers deduced that more than 75% of the asteroids from outside our Solar System are coming from such binary systems. For planetary scientists like Jackson, being able to observe objects like these may yield important clues about how planet formation works in other star systems.
"But we also have some idea that Jupiter-sized planets are not that common", he added. The team's computer simulations suggest that up to 36% of binary stars can eject asteroids.
Instead the new research has suggested Oumuamua may be a lot more alien in origin than initially assumed. Researchers are trying to determine how it got its cigar-like shape and from where it may have originated. It likely came from a very alien place.
"The same way we use comets to better understand planet formation in our own solar system, maybe this curious object can tell us more about how planets form in other systems", Jackson said.
In fact, as Jackson points out, 'Oumuamua's orbit has the highest eccentricity ever observed in an object passing through our Solar System.