Scientific Colloquium
September 19, 2018, 3:30 p.m.
Building 3, Goett Auditorium

"`Oumuamua: The First Interstellar Comet" 


The Pan-STARRS1 telescope, located at the summit of Haleakala on Maui, is tasked with finding Near Earth Objects (NEOs) that may one day pose a hazard to Earth. On October 19, 2017, a fast moving object was discovered, which by October 30 had an orbital eccentricity of 1.196 0.006 making it -- now designated 1I/2017 U1 (`Oumuamua) -- the first asteroid or comet of interstellar origin. In the following weeks, we began an intense follow-up campaign before it faded from view to characterize `Oumuamua and the possible nature of its violent ejection from its home planetary system. Its red colored lightcurve had a 7.34 hour period, implying it has a highly elongated shape, about 800 x 80 x 80 meters. From the largest ground-based telescopes, it showed no cometary activity, but later Hubble Space Telescope data showed it has a non-gravitational component of its motion implying it is in fact a comet, but one with dust production very different from anything else in our own solar system.
 
About the Speaker:

Robert Weyrk completed his Ph.D. at the University of Western Ontario in London Ontario with Peter Brown, where he made simultaneous radar and video measurements of meteors in order to better constrain mass estimates of meteoroids. He did a short postdoc after that with Bob Hawkes at Mount Allison University in Sackville New Brunswick where he worked on meteoroid ablation modelling. Following this, he moved to Hawaii to work with Richard Wainscoat and the Pan-STARRS survey to find much larger asteroids and comets, with a focus on Near Earth Objects (NEOs). He has been there for 3.5 years. 
                   
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