Published on Mon Apr 15 2019

Discovery of a Meteor of Interstellar Origin

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The first interstellar object, `Oumuamua, was discovered in the Solar System by Pan-STARRS in 2017, allowing for a calibration of the abundance of interstellar objects of its size m. One would expect a much higher abundance of smaller interstellar objects, with some of them colliding with Earth frequently enough to be noticeable. Based on the CNEOS catalog of bolide events, we identify the m meteor detected at 2014-01-08 17:05:34 UTC as originating from an unbound hyperbolic orbit with 99.999% confidence. We infer that the meteor had an asymptotic speed of outside of the solar system. Its origin is approximately towards R.A. and declination , implying that its initial velocity vector was away from the velocity of the Local Standard of Rest (LSR). Its high LSR speed implies a possible origin from the deep interior of a planetary system or a star in the thick disk of the Milky Way galaxy. The local number density of its population is or (necessitating 0.2 - 20 Earth masses of material to be ejected per local star). This discovery enables a new method for studying the composition of interstellar objects, based on spectroscopy of their gaseous debris as they burn up in the Earth's atmosphere.