Evening at The SETI Institute

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Hi Guys and a happy Sunday to you! I hope you are having a wonderful end of the week. I know I am and I plan to spend it outdoors today.

What is SETI Institute?

Last week, I attended a lecture at The SETI Institute in Menlo Park. Based in Mountain View, California, the institute holds lectures around the Bay Area with the mission “to explore, understand, and explain the origin and nature of life in the universe, and to apply the knowledge gained to inspire and guide present and future generations. We have a passion for discovery, and for sharing knowledge as scientific ambassadors to the public, the press, and the government.” If you are visiting the Bay Area or are living here, be sure to like their page on Facebook (See HERE) and see what events are taking place and where.

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The Event

According to the event page of the SETI lecture (See HERE) “1I/`Oumuamua, The First Known Interstellar Visitor” was  a-first-of-its-kind small body, possibly an asteroid, which came from another planetary system.

Since its discovery, astronomers around the world have raced to use BOTH ground-based and space-borne telescopes to collect information on its nature. Last week, at the SETI Institute two astronomers, Meg Schwamb, astronomer at the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii and Matija Cuk, astronomer at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, discussed the nature of ‘Oumuamua; its color and shape in comparison with known small solar system bodies; and information about its origin derived from its extremely elongated shape and its orbit.

My Notes


Whenever I attend these lectures, the purpose is two-fold: one to teach my readers about Science and two to test my crazy theories. The talk was a lot of fun as we learned the name Oumuamua means “a messenger from far away”. It also gave me hope to learn that many theories I have thought and written about may have some weight to them. During the talk, I recalled an event a WHILE ago. My friend’s elementary school question of “how the sun just hangs there?” was answered by my well-thought-out and imaginative answer, “I think there is another sun nearby”. It was a simple conversation, but it had a lot of ideas packed in it, for example, the answer to the question, what is gravity? 

And, twenty years later, I learned during this discussion the idea of our sun being part of a binary star system IS a possibility. And Oumuamua may be the first step in the right direction. Some of the points the speakers made supporting why Oumuamua may be an interstellar asteroid and not a comet (or an asteroid from our solar system) were its hyperbolic path instead of the usual oval path of a comet, it tumbling instead of coming straight towards the sun, and then going out again. Other points were made about it not having an icy tail like comets usually do and it traveling super fast. Because the asteroid is moving super fast it can’t be photographed. 

Path-of-Oumuamua

The whole time they were talking, I was remembering that conversation I had back in elementary school. I decided to do a little bit of research. I found out the basic difference between an asteroid and comet. What I found was that an asteroid is “a small rocky body orbiting the sun.” A comet on the other hand “is a celestial body moving about the sun, usually in a highly eccentric orbit, consisting of a central mass surrounded by an envelope of dust and gas that may form a tail that streams away from the sun”.  Source (See HERE and HERE).

It got me thinking of the possibility that this “asteroid” could be the proof of the notion that sun is part of a binary star system and maybe all stars are part of a binary system. Maybe these scientists are on to something. Interesting, huh?

Points to ponder over:

  • Are all stars part of what we call “binary star systems”?
  • Do BOTH binary stars in a binary star system have planets and asteroid belts revolving around them?
  • How could Oumuamua have escaped from its star system and come into our solar system?

The reason I chose to file this post under the travel section and not under the literature section is because I want visitors to the Bay Area and those folks who live here to visit SETI Institute (See HERE) lectures and gain knowledge critical to understanding our place in the world and the universe. Happy Traveling!!