While many — together with the 2 Harvard astronomers — have interpreted Space Command’s assertion to NASA as affirmation that the meteor is interstellar, some astronomers consider extra information is required to again up the declare. The accessible measurements, they are saying, lack error bars that point out how exact or unsure they had been.
“The sentence is not enough. Scientific results are published, they are not secret,” mentioned Maria Hajdukova, a researcher on the Astronomical Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences in Slovakia who research meteors and examined the Space Command corroboration. “I’m not saying I don’t believe it, but if I don’t have facts I cannot claim it,” she added.
NASA mentioned in a public assertion this month that “the short duration of collected data, less than five seconds, makes it difficult to definitively determine if the object’s origin was indeed interstellar.”
“Quite frankly, we can’t confirm that it’s interstellar,” NASA’s planetary protection officer, Lindley Johnson, mentioned in an interview. “Although it is of high velocity, a velocity that could be potentially interstellar, it is next to impossible to confirm that it’s interstellar without accompanying data — from a longer data span or data from other sources, which doesn’t exist in this case.”
Dr. Loeb and Mr. Siraj disagreed. “Five seconds is plenty of time,” Dr. Loeb mentioned. “It’s not the duration that matters, it’s the quality of the data that was assembled that matters. During five seconds you can do a lot, in terms of instrumentation and measurement.”
He and Mr. Siraj plan to resubmit their paper to The Astrophysical Journal Letters. And the info concerning the 2014 meteor now coming from the navy company could assist their argument, mentioned Peter Veres, an astronomer on the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center, which tracks objects within the photo voltaic system.
That information reveals an uncommon sequence of three explosions of sunshine as the item was barreling via Earth’s ambiance. “It looks weird, I can tell you that,” Dr. Veres mentioned, noting that the brightness of meteors throughout their plunge sometimes peaks solely as soon as.