First known interstellar meteorite hit Earth in 2014, US officials say: NPR

US officials have confirmed that a space rock that streaked through the skies off the coast of Papua New Guinea in January 2014 was, in fact, an incredibly rare meteorite that originated from beyond the solar system.

This meteor is known as CNEOS 2014-01-08. It crashed on January 8, 2014, but it wasn’t until last week that government officials confirmed the origin of this space rock.

The meteor was determined to be “interstellar” or from beyond the solar system by Amir Siraj in 2019. At the time, Siraj, a student at Harvard University, worked to determine his findings with his academic adviser, Abraham Loeb, a professor of science at the university.

Siraj wrote about this process to american scientist. She was studying what at the time was considered the first known interstellar meteorite called Oumuamua, which was identified in October 2017.

Although he and Loeb were confident in their findings on CNEOS 2014-01-08, and that it predates Oumuamua by three years, scientific journals refused to publish their report because their data came from a NASA database that does not reveal certain information.

Last Wednesday, a memo from US Space Force Lt. Gen. John Shaw was tweeted officially confirming his findings and said “that the velocity estimate reported to NASA is accurate enough to indicate an interstellar trajectory”.

Officials used Siraj and Loeb’s findings, as well as additional information drawn from the US Department of Defense, to make this confirmation official.

The 2014 meteor is now one of three such interstellar meteors confirmed to date, along with Oumuamua and interstellar comet Borisov, Siraj wrote in American scientist.

Siraj said he hopes more follow-up research can be done on such interstellar meteors to learn even more about them.

He wrote: “We are currently investigating whether a mission to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Manus Island, in the hope of finding fragments of the 2014 meteorite, might be fruitful or even possible.”

Add Comment