Asteroid Oumuamua cannot be made of hydrogen ice

(ORDO NEWS) — Discussions about the nature and molecular structure of Oumuamua object – the first in our solar system “guest” from interstellar space – flared up the other day with renewed vigor after an article was published that refuted the assumption made in one early study that this cosmic object consists from hydrogen ice.

This previous study (Seligman and Laughlin, 2020) was carried out after data obtained from the Spitzer space observatory (“Spitzer”) that there were no significant amounts of carbon atoms in emissions from the surface of the Oumuamua object.

Asteroid Oumuamua cannot be made of hydrogen ice

The paper hypothesized that Oumuamua is an “iceberg” of ice, which is formed by molecular hydrogen in a solid state of aggregation. In this case, the emissions of gases from the surface of this cosmic stone, which gave it an unexpected acceleration, recorded by scientists, would really not contain carbon. The authors of this study also pointed out that molecular hydrogen ice could help explain dark matter, one of the biggest mysteries of modern astrophysics.

However, in a new study, astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Center, USA, led by Dr. Thiem Hoang, decided to theoretically test this assumption and, based on the results of their verification, concluded that the hypothesis proposed by Seligman and Laughlin is impossible.

According to Hoang, the assembly of a large iceberg from hydrogen ice in dense molecular clouds located in interstellar space is impossible, primarily due to the fact that micron grains, covered with a crust of hydrogen ice, necessary for the assembly of a large “iceberg”, too quickly lose this the crust upon collision with other gas molecules and corresponding heating. The lack of a stable mechanism for the formation of “icebergs” from hydrogen ice also makes it impossible to explain with its help dark matter.


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