LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Scientists have captured imagery of our solar system’s first “interstellar visitor,” according to NASA.
The agency announced Monday astronomers had observed what appears to be a “rocky, cigar-shaped object with a somewhat reddish hue” traveling at approximately 85,700 miles-per-hour through the Milky Way.
The asteroid — the “first confirmed object from another star,” according to NASA — is estimated to be up to one-quarter mile long. Scientists say it could provide clues as to how other solar systems formed.
“For decades we’ve theorized that such interstellar objects are out there, and now – for the first time – we have direct evidence they exist,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, said in a statement on the agency’s website.
“This history-making discovery is opening a new window to study formation of solar systems beyond our own.”
The “interstellar visitor,” named Oumuamua, is being tracked this week by the NASA Hubble and Spitzer telescopes.