Astronomers that flew over South Pacific in 2014 were an interstellar object

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Astronomers that flew over South Pacific in 2014 were an interstellar object

A meteor that streaked across the skies over the South Pacific in 2014 was in fact an object that arrived from outside the solar system, U.S. Space Command confirmed on Wednesday.

In a memo signed by Space Command Deputy Commander Lt. General John E. Shaw and Space Force chief scientist Joel Mozer, Space Force confirmed that a meteor that flew over Manus Island, Papua New Guinea on January 8, 2014, was indeed an interstellar object. The meteor is known as CNEOS 2014 -- 01 08.

In issuing this assessment, Space Force endorsed a study conducted by Harvard University researchers Abraham Loeb and Amir Siraj in 2019 that determined that the object originated from another solar system.

Siraj, who began his undergraduate studies alongside Loeb, was drawn to the incident during their examination of Oumuamua, a meteor believed to be the first interstellar object in 2017. After years of analysis that relied on classified satellites' data, the duo concluded that the Manus Island fireball was an interstellar object and Oumuamua by three years.

In his memo, Lt. Gen. Shaw said that officials reviewed additional data related to Siraj and Loeb's finding and confirmed that the velocity estimate reported to NASA is sufficiently accurate to indicate an interstellar trajectory. Siraj said that the next step would be to see if it would be possible to scour the ocean floor off Manus Island to find any fragments of the meteor.

It would be a big undertaking, but we're going to look at it in extreme depth because the possibility of getting the first piece of interstellar material is exciting enough to check this very thoroughly and talk to all the world experts on ocean expeditions to recover meteorites, Siraj told Vice News.