back to article Space, the final blunt-tier: Binary system ejected huge 'spliff' asteroid, boffins reckon

'Oumuamua, the mysterious and oddly shaped interstellar asteroid spotted by astronomers, was probably ejected from a binary star system. The asteroid made headlines back in October last year for resembling a gigantic joint, or cigar, or a turd. The object is so different to other space rocks we've seen before, and appeared …

  1. m0rt

    " It has a radius of 200 meters"

    I know that got bandied about, but what does that refer to? The spin radius? Because other figures suggest 80m radius, others say it is 35m in diameter and 230m long.

    Whichever is still one hell of an unflushable.

    1. b0llchit


      > Whichever is still one hell of an unflushable.

      Which thus means you should try again and try harder. You might want to use an extra bucket of flush while you are at it.

      1. hplasm Silver badge

        Re: Unflushable?

        "You might want to use an extra bucket of flush while you are at it."

        And a stick...

        1. HausWolf

          Re: Unflushable?

          Or a knife.

    2. Conspectus83

      Alien life

      Maybe the unflushable harboured alien life. I think they might be named turtleheads.

    3. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      It is however, officially a floater....

    4. ravenviz

      Probably need to break its back with a toothbrush.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, er, call me a pedant

    but the statement "born during the formation of a binary star system somewhere beyond the Solar System" is redundant, unless of course we look under the sofa behind Jupiter and find a couple of extra stars in our solar system we missed.

    And, WRT posts above, I think this one would have its head above the water...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well, er, call me a pedant

      Fwiw, the current length/width ratio of Oumuamua implies that the material comprising it is highly consolidated and this can only happen under the influence of gravity, indicating that Oumuamua is actually a fragment of a much larger body.

      I think that the fact that it's spinning end-over-end also supports this because if it formed, on its own, and by accretion only, the material would be only very loosely bound together and unable to maintain its form against any force great enough to induce its spin.

      The idea of hollowing out asteroids to make habitats hits the same problem - their gravity is so low that the material from which they're made is only loosely held together and poorly consolidated.

  3. David Roberts

    Does look like a turd

    I wouldn't want to meet whatever parted with it. Giant mutant star goats are scary at the best of times.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As we have seen one interstellar asteroid then does logic not mean that there's more on the way? It had to have been part of something else at some point.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      ' More on the wy'

      Invasion of the giant space turds!

      I'm sure I watched that one Sunday afternoon

      1. hplasm Silver badge

        Re: ' More on the wy'

        It's an Emissary!

        From F'tumch!

    2. imanidiot Silver badge

      If it came from a star system lightyears away and they departed at even 0.00001 degrees different trajectories, the rest aren't even close.

    3. 0laf Silver badge

      There are likely thousands or millions of bits of interstellar junk passing through our solar system all the time. It's just that we haven't had the technology to detect them until now. I'd expect we'll see the detection of quite a few larger lumps soon until they get ignored as being common.

    4. HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

      "As we have seen one interstellar asteroid then does logic not mean that there's more on the way?"

      Welllllll.... we *are* approaching 2024 ......

      "Moonfall", Jack McDevitt. A very good read.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Phobos 2

    Have you heard? Latest rumors I picked up was that this asteroid is (allegedly!) also visible on the latest pictures taken by Phobos 2. Because... both show long slim shapes and both cannot be explained so.. aliens. Makes sense, right? :)

  6. Havin_it

    That's as may be

    But my inner Grammarnazi is getting (erroneously) #triggered every time I clap eyes on that leading apostrophe.

    1. stuartnz

      Re: That's as may be

      Just think of it as a glot'l stop :)

      1. Steve the Cynic

        Re: That's as may be

        Just think of it as a glot'l stop :)

        A good policy, because that is exactly what it is.

        And the symbol isn't an apostrophe. The correct representation is an opening single quote (while an apostrophe corresponds to a closing single quote). This rock is called ʻOumuamua, a Hawaiian word meaning "scout", and the eighth consonant in Hawaiian is a glottal stop, written with that symbol.

        1. Youngone

          Re: That's as may be

          The next time I'm playing Civilization as Kamehameha I will now need to name my first scout 'Oumuamua won't I?

        2. stuartnz

          Re: That's as may be

          Steve, that was exactly why I suggested it. Māori and Hawaiian are closely related, and I've been told that fluent speakers of either can converse with each other, albeit with some difficulty due to consonantal differences like this one. Māori has more consonants than most of its Polynesian siblings, so we're very used to seeing the glottal stop ' here, though more often in Samoan than Hawaiian

  7. boltar Silver badge

    Ok , so how does that explain its shape?

    How it was ejected from wherever it formed is the least interesting part about it. The summary of the paper doesn't suggest any ideas on how such an object could have formed whether in a binary system or otherwise. If I was a betting man I'd say it is part of or the interior of a larger object that broke up rather than this being the shape it formed as since IMO thats the only plausable explanation for such a shape that defies normal gravitational formation.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      How about : it was part of a much larger body that collided with something big enough to break it into chunks, one of which is the one we saw ?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Register's Digest

    Original article states:

    "It's remarkable that we've now seen for the first time a physical object from outside our Solar System"

    "It's really odd that the first object we would see from outside our system would be an asteroid, because a comet would be a lot easier to spot and the Solar System ejects many more comets than asteroids"


    The Register's Copy/Paste magic summarizes:

    "It's remarkable that we've now seen for the first time a physical object from outside our Solar System ejects many more comets than asteroids."

    Seriously guys, would it really break your back to reread your prose once before hitting "publish"?

  9. Jay Lenovo

    Hi, my name name is.. Oumuamua

    Oumuamua: Hawaiian for scout or messenger,

    Internet for long smelly space metaphor

    1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

      Re: Hi, my name name is.. Oumuamua

      I assumed it was pronounced "Yo Mamma"

      1. Alister Silver badge

        Re: Hi, my name name is.. Oumuamua

        I assumed it was pronounced "Yo Mamma"

        I read it as Ooh Mwah Mwah

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Read Eon by Greg Bear, it's the stone.

    Great novel by the way and love to see it as a mini series as a movie wouldn't do it justice.

    1. Killing Time

      Ah yes the seventh chamber,"the Way" and it's central singularity.

      A good book.

      1. Killing Time

        Come to think of it, I enjoyed Eternity as well.

  11. Richard Wharram

    Cigar or turd?

    Why choose? Bum Cigar is a common enough phrase round my way.

  12. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    It's not AN asteroid, that's WHAT they want you TO THINK.

  13. My-Handle

    Quote: "Jackson said its orbit has the highest eccentricity ever observed for a foreign object passing through our Solar System."

    Now I might be wrong about this, but a foreign object passing through our Solar System would not be in orbit around the sun, it would merely be passing it by. It's "orbit" would be hyperbolic, which would thus make it's orbital eccentricity infinite?

    Either the object is the first interstellar object we've seen (which is was was largely reported, and would make this extra piece of information redundant), or it's straight-up wrong.

    Ok, ok, I'm leaving. Mine's the one with a copy of "Pedant's guide to pedantry" in the pocket.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Orbit? Maybe it's orbiting the universe on a grand tour?

    2. Bill Gray

      Nope. A circular orbit has e=0. A parabolic one has e=1 (most comets are in something close to that). The earth's orbit has e=0.017, just a little non-circular. Anything with e>1 is hyperbolic. `Oumuamua has e=1.19. Infinite e would require infinite velocity.

      1. My-Handle

        Ah, thanks for the correction.

  14. Milton

    Cringe with shame

    Cringe with shame, for—

    "Space, the final blunt-tier"

    —weak, clumsy and beyond pathetic ... even by El Reg's determinedly, deliberately adolescent standards. Not clever. Not funny. Not challenging. Not worth so much as a wry smile. Simply witless.

    I wonder, not for the first time, how your otherwise excellent organ might perform if it employed even a single adult editor?

    For the last time, I ask: do you really think that even one solitary visitor comes here for what you fondly, and utterly misguidedly, believe is "clever" punning?

    It really isn't.

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Cringe with shame


      You obviously don't appreciate the type of adolescent humour practised by The Reg, so why don't you just stop winging about it and go away?

    2. Killing Time

      Re: Cringe with shame

      Bit of an overreaction.

      Pun's are mean't to make you groan...

      1. Alister Silver badge

        Re: Cringe with shame

        Pun's are mean't to make you groan...

        As are greengrocer's apostrophes...

        1. Killing Time

          Re: Cringe with shame

          Terrible things small screens and keyboards, you end up typing things like 'winging' when presumably you meant 'whinging' and not noticing.

          Glass houses and all that ;)

  15. David Gosnell

    Binary system unsurprising

    Last I heard, consensus was that most star systems are binary, so statistically it's pretty likely, even before taking into account the increased likelihood of such systems spitting out projectile asteroids.

  16. MT Field
    Thumb Up

    My favourite theory ties in nicely with the recent gravitational observation of a neutron star merger. The ejecta from such a collision rapidly decondenses (no longer enough gravity to keep it degenerate) into plasma featuring lots of heavy atomic nuclei. Further reactions and de-ionization yields dense lumps of heavy metallic and rocky stuff.

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