A visitor to our solar system became the subject of headlines around the world last year after the cigar-shaped rock now named `Oumuamua flew past our sun.
But it might not have been the first interstellar visitor to our planet, a new study has suggested.
A new paper from Harvard astronomers suggests that another meteor that hit Earth’s atmosphere above Papua New Guinea may also have come from outside oursolar system.
Researchers found the meteor – which burnt up in 2014 – by looking for objects that were ‘too fast’ to be orbiting the sun.
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The Papua New Guinea object travelled towards Earth at around 37 miles per second, a speed so high it suggests it originated outside our solar system.
The researchers write that the find ‘implies a possible origin from the deep interior of a planetary system or a star in the thick disk of the Milky Way galaxy.’
Kat Volk from the University of Arizona, who was not involved in the research said, ‘I think it is reasonable to conclude that this very high speed impactor came from the population of interstellar object.
‘I expect interstellar objects to be common enough – both from theoretical considerations and from the implications of ‘Oumuamua – that I think an interstellar origin is the simplest explanation for this bolide.’