A/2017 U1 — Too Speculative To Claim That It Is ‘Interstellar’.
Definitely extremely interesting and intriguing. Wow. Orbital eccentricity of 1.1922! The greatest we have ever seen — the keywords here being ‘ever seen’. Comet ISON, that crashed and burned on Thanksgiving Day 2013 had an eccentricity of 1.0000015.
But, here is the deal with eccentricity. Anything over 1.0 means that the object will eventually leave our Solar System. That we know. But, what we cannot tell as yet is WHEN A/2017 U1 got that highly eccentric orbit. We just do NOT know — as yet. And maybe never will.
To claim that it must have originated OUTSIDE of our Solar System — is speculative. We do NOT have enough evidence.
NASA/JPL’s official statement confirms that: “So far, everything indicates this is likely an interstellar object, but more data would help to confirm it.” Note the ‘likely‘ and the part about ‘more data … for confirmation‘. That is exactly MY POINT and what I am trying to impress.
The claim that its orbit was NOT influenced by a close encounter with a planet — typically one of the BIG ones — is speculative. It could have been majorly torqued around by Uranus or Neptune. We don’t know.
I have a druthers that this is a very old comet — a periodic one at that, which on its last trip out, maybe 400 years ago got too close to a gas giant and had its orbit turned ‘upside down’.
We don’t know.
All I am stressing is do NOT jump to conclusions.
We know so little about what has happened in OUR Solar System and what is happening right now.
But, it is exciting.
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