The astronomy community has been buzzing this week with discussions of a new object that has been seen in the solar system.  Its formal name is A2017UI (with the proposed common name Oumuamua, which is Hawaiian for "messenger from the distant past" ), and it is assumed to be an asteroid - but one such as we have never seen before. 

First off, it has entered the solar system from deep space, making it the first such asteroid in recent history to do so. Being extra-solar already makes it a valuable discovery for scientists seeking to learn more about other stars and planetary systems, since it provides direct evidence of how asteroid and other objects form elsewhere in our galaxy.

However it is even stranger than that...

It is long and pointy, whereas asteroids and comets are round. Spherical shaped objects minimize energy, and are therefore the most common form that matter takes. Slight variations are expected, but a long, thin shard is not. It could have been debris from some form of collision, and just by chance we are seeing an odd shaped piece, or it could be some form of solidified ejections from a molten exoplanet, and the initial velocity of the material caused its bizarre shape, but we cannot be certain yet why it is different from all other large objects.

It also appears to have a very high metallic content, whereas most asteroid do not. Again, this could be explained if it formed around a high metallicity star - but that also makes it a rare and interesting object. Some astronomers are also claiming that the surface appears smoother than a normal asteroid, which also suggests an odd origin for it.

This is where the more speculative theories enter into the story, and the reason why this object has been so newsworthy.  This object is clearly not an ordinary asteroid or Kuiper belt object from the edge of solar system. Some astronomers and many hopeful laymen are starting to wonder if it might be a prove sent from an alien civilization.

It comes from outside of the solar system, so we do not know whether the system it originates from contains life or not. The smooth surface and high metal content could suggest that it was constructed rather than naturally formed. And the thin, pointy shape would be the ideal form for an object that must pass through dust and debris travelling between stars. Humans have already sent proves into interstellar space, so there is no reason to believe that other civilizations wouldn't do the same. 

This object is definitely interesting to the scientific community. Either it is a unique form of asteroid formed in a distant star system, and brings us a unique glimpse of other worlds and their properties, or it is the first indications that we are not alone in the galaxy.

Either way this discovery will change our understanding the of Universe!