back to article Tut – you wait a lifetime for an interstellar object then two come at once

ESA scientists are studying an object that has all the hallmarks of being another entity from outside our Solar System, making it the second to be spotted after 2017's cigar-shaped interstellar comet. The observation has, thus far, been a team effort. Gennady Borisov of the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory spotted the thing …

  1. jake Silver badge

    Occupant of C/2019 Q4 to interstellar ticket agent:

    "Waddaya mean 1I/2017 U1 has already left? They told me I had a connecting flight!"

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Occupant of C/2019 Q4 to interstellar ticket agent:

      Break out the lemon scented napkins and the hibernation equipment.

  2. Mark 85 Silver badge

    A comet is what they want us to think.

    So the second scout ship on it's way. Presumably the main fleet won't be far behind.

    1. TheGriz

      Re: A comet is what they want us to think.

      LOL, that was exactly what I thought when I read this report. 2 "interstellar" visits in the span of only 2 years? I don't believe in coincidence, just saying. :)

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: A comet is what they want us to think.

        Elections are coming up in the US, pollsters are everywhere!

    2. macjules Silver badge

      Re: A comet is what they want us to think.

      Nah, It's Golgafrinchan Ark Fleet Ship B. Instead of telephone sanitisers it carries project managers, press release spokespersons and the entire marketing division of Golgafrinchanoogle.com

      Be very afraid.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A comet is what they want us to think.

        No problem. The labour and democrat parties have vacancies.

        Or climate changing mutant space goats could replace carbon dioxide as the greatest reason to employ illiterate and innumerate academics

        1. Glen 1 Silver badge

          Re: A comet is what they want us to think.

          "The labour and democrat parties have vacancies."

          Surely you mean the other lot.

          Link for those from the future where the topical context will be lost.

        2. Muscleguy Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: A comet is what they want us to think.

          Oh, why can’t us literate and numerate scientists have some fun too?

      2. RegGuy1
        Facepalm

        Re: A comet is what they want us to think.

        It's Golgafrinchan Ark Fleet Ship B.

        Well they missed. Maybe they should have included someone who knew what they were doing.

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: A comet is what they want us to think.

          Presumably they were tired of experts.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: A comet is what they want us to think.

      I was thinking "A sequel to 'Rendezvous with Rama'" (as the previous one was kinda 'Rama' shaped).

      I read that book in the 70's when I was a kid, when reading books didn't put me to sleep...

  3. Douglas Wardle

    Time to buy Nike

    So few comets, so many idiots

  4. James Hughes 1

    Rendezvous...

    Don't these things comes in three's?

    1. Red Ted
      Go

      Re: Rendezvous...

      ...with Rama?

      I liked the first book, but gave up on the second one.

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Rendezvous...

        What about the third?

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Alien

          Re: Rendezvous...

          3 Gentry Lee ones, one original. That'd be 4.

          (yeah I didn't know about them either until I looked)

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Rendezvous...

      apparently the 'Gentry Lee' sequels DID come in threes (never read them, some people apparently consider them to NOT be a true 'sequel' to the original), but there was only one of the original.

      I had nearly forgotten about the 3-ness of the Ramans. Did a 3rd Raman ship ever show up in any of the 'Rama II' series? Otherwise, just two.

  5. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    ...and so it begins...

    I for one welcome our new extra-solar overlords...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ...and so it begins...

      Careful They all look like Verhofstadt and Juncker.

  6. TheGriz

    However, on a serious note

    Let your imagination take over for a moment, what if this is a precursor to some sort of galactic alignment, and our beloved star The Sun, and it's accompanying planetary partners are slowly drifting into some sort of denser galactic region where millions, nay billions of interplanetary objects are orbiting and this is just the beginning and over the next couple of hundred years, (or couple of thousand), we start to see more and more of these and thus increasing the chance of an impact by one of these objects happening to the world we all live on. What if this is the start of some sort of "Great Bombardment". That's very scary when you let your imagination run a bit wild.

    1. Jonathan Richards 1
      Pirate

      Re: However, on a serious note

      On a most serious note, we (as in you and I) won't see more and more of these over the next couple of hundred years even if there are more and more of them to see.

      Icon---> Memento mori.

      Sorry to spoil the mood... carry on!

      1. TheGriz

        Re: However, on a serious note

        Good one, I upvoted your response. However, I will clarify that when I typed "we" I meant the human race as a whole. :)

        1. IDoNotThinkSo
          Mushroom

          Re: However, on a serious note

          Après moi, le déluge

    2. EricM
      Happy

      Space ist -really- big and for the most part depressingly empty

      Even at a rate of 2 Million in 2 years there would not be a goot chance of any direct hit with any solar system body, let alone tiny earth ...

      However, the night sky view would become spectaclular : Imagine 10.000 active comets when you look up in the dark at night :)

      1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        Re: Space ist -really- big and for the most part depressingly empty

        "Even at a rate of 2 Million in 2 years there would not be a goot chance of any direct hit with any solar system body, let alone tiny earth ..."

        My napkin suggests that, at a million/year, the earth would be hit within a millennia, although we're having a debate about whether that's an over- or underestimate.

        The odds are only so high because they're isotropically distributed. If they were all aligned with the ecliptic, we'd be in trouble for sure.

        And Venus looks to have the biggest cross section since it's almost earth sized but orbits at three quarters the earth's orbital radius.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: However, on a serious note

      "what if this is a precursor to some sort of galactic alignment"

      I suggest stellar explosion zillions of years ago threw these too our way, and so some of the post-explosion bits condensed and had similar size, velocity, and trajectory (eventually heading our way).

      sparing the physic calculations (momentum and energy conservation, for example) rocks of similar size and density might have similar trajectories and encounter the same stellar objects, which would slingshot them into similar OTHER trajectories. And so on. Now they're here, curving off to some other destination.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: However, on a serious note

        If two objects were chucked out in a stellar explosion "zillions" of years ago on a "similar" trajectory, how far apart would their paths take them in the ensuing time?

        Methinks they probably wouldn't even be in the same spiral arm, and probably not even the same galaxy, much less the same solar system. Besides, they came from different directions.

        1. Long John Brass Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: However, on a serious note

          Besides, they came from different directions.

          I thought it came from the desert?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah, they saw this one coming

    But I'm waiting for the loud retort, the bright flash of light, and the rapid disassembly of adjacent parts when the one they don't see coming hits. I can see the headline now: "Boffins surprised ..."

    If they're so expert, why are they always surprised by the unexpected?

    1. LenG

      Re: Yeah, they saw this one coming

      Surely the more expert you are, the less likely to encounter something unexpected (in your own field) and thus the more surprised you are likely to be if you do.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: Yeah, they saw this one coming

      They aren't surprised. They are fascinated and excited. It's the Press (or perhaps the editors) who decide to confer the surprised emotion on them.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yeah, they saw this one coming

      'Boffins surprised' is journo speak for 'they didn't hand us a press release 2 weeks in advance so we could schedule it in around the Meghan gossip.'

  8. Winkypop Silver badge
    Alien

    Zork, let's lob a few small rocks at them first

    See how they react...

  9. Gary Heard

    Looking for means it's NOT unexpected

    Couple of things really, in the entire history of the human race, it's probably only in the last 15-20 years we've been able to look for and find these things. How many have zipped through unnoticed in the past 40 years let alone 4 million or 4 billion ( the time of the "Late Heavy Bombardment").?

    The other thing is the Lucifer's Hammer (book) or Armageddon/Deep Impact (films) scenario, we are a very very small speck in the vastness of space, over geologic time something from outside the Solar System may hit us, but that scenario is very unlikely compared to something for the Oort Cloud or Kuiper belt falling in and 'nudging' the planet ( may wipe us out, but it was good while it lasted)

  10. RegGuy1

    Does this mean the rest of the galaxy is the same as here?

    It would be interesting to get more data on what it's made of and how well this matches what we know of the composition of bodies here. The start of a new area of science? Very intriguing.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Does this mean the rest of the galaxy is the same as here?

      There's not really all that much to compare with as yet. Many Earth samples, a few Moon rocks, various meteorites where we've made best guesses as to their origins and a very few remote sampling/testing of Martian regolith. Everything else is supposition and theory based on distant observations and identification of gases through spectroscopy.

      It's incredible what we puny humans have managed to learn, but it's still a tiny amount in terms of non-Earth rock samples.

  11. ThatOne Silver badge
    Joke

    Shape?

    So, what is this one shaped like? Cigarette? Pipe? Hookah?

  12. Rol Silver badge

    Local, is a matter of perspective.

    So let's get this right. The debris floating around several billion years ago from an extinct star or three, that happened to be in the vicinity of Sol when it first ignited is granted local status, but debris from the same extinct stars that have only recently meandered in are classed as outsiders?

    A bit xenophobic, don't you think?

  13. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    Careful observation using Hubble reveals the message...

    ... "Greetings from Klendathu"...

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