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Mysterious Interstellar Spaceship Kuiper Belt?


Mysterious Interstellar Spaceship Discovered in the Kuiper Belt?A bizarre, hourglass-shaped Kuiper belt object, like an gigantic interstellar spaceship.(Object 2001QG298) spins round like a propeller as it orbits the Sun. They noticed that 2001QG298′s apparent brightness periodically tripled every 7 hours or so. “The object is so distant that they cannot resolve its shape. “It was impossible to tell from the original observations if the rotation and the orbital plane of 2001QG298 were aligned or perpendicular i.e. whether the object spun round horizontally like the blades on a helicopter or rotated vertically like the propeller of an aeroplane. The changes to the lightcurve variation show that it must be approximately vertical. .. full article at europlanet-eu.org

This video shows an artistic rendering of the strange contact-binary Kuiper belt object 2001QG298 as seen from earth between 2003 and 2020. It shows how the observing angle and the lightcurve change as the object moves in its orbit along the sun.

The black line on the surface of 2001QG298 marks its equator. 2001QG298 is a contact binary which was first identified between 2003 and 2004 by Scott Sheppard and David Jewitt. Its extreme shape was inferred from the large brightness oscilations (larger than 1.1 magnitudes, equivalent to a brightness variation of 3 to 1) produced as the object spins.The lightcurve (brightness variation with rotation) observed in 2003/2004 is shown in red.

In 2010 the object was re-observed by Pedro Lacerda who found that the variation had decreased. The 2010 lightcurve is shown as white circles. The two sets of data imply that 2001QG298 is tilted by almost 90 degrees with respect to the plane of its orbit, as shown by the model on the left. The lightcurve produced by the model is shown as a yellow line overplotted on the red and white data points.

The model lightcurve varies with time as the object moves along its orbit around the sun. The black line on the surface of 2001QG298 marks the equator and the orbital plane is considered to be horizontal. More information on this object can be found here: habu.pst.qub.ac.uk

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