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The path of A/2017 U1 as it passed through our inner solar system in September and October 2017. Credit: NASA / JPL

On October 19 astronomers with the Pan-STARRS facility in Hawaii spotted an otherwise unremarkable small object tumbling through our solar system, but initial and follow-up observations revealed several intriguing characteristics:

  • It was moving faster than 50,000 mph before it arrived, more than enough to ensure it wouldn't be captured by the sun.
  • It entered the inner solar system from an angle far steeper than other distant visitors like comets.
  • It appears to be more like an asteroid than a comet — if it were a comet, it would have produced a tail as it neared the sun.

Why it matters: All the evidence together suggests that A/2017 U1, as it's currently named, is not from around here. It likely formed in another stellar system altogether, was ejected who knows how long ago, and has been traveling interstellar space before a chance encounter with our sun. It's already on its way out — past the orbit of Mars — traveling back into the void.

Go deeper

Using apps to prevent deadly police encounters

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Mobile phone apps are evolving in ways that can stop rather than simply document deadly police encounters with people of color — including notifying family and lawyers about potential violations in real time.

Why it matters: As states and cities face pressure to reform excessive force policies, apps that monitor police are becoming more interactive, gathering evidence against rogue officers as well as posting social media videos to shame the agencies.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
11 hours ago - Technology

TikTok gets more time (again)

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The White House is again giving TikTok's Chinese parent company more to satisfy national security concerns, rather than initiating legal action, a source familiar with the situation tells Axios.

The state of play: China's ByteDance had until Friday to resolve issues raised by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS), which is chaired by Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin. This was the company's third deadline, with CFIUS having provided two earlier extensions.

Federal judge orders Trump administration to restore DACA

DACA recipients and their supporters rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on June 18. Photo: Drew Angerer via Getty

A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to fully restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, giving undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children a chance to petition for protection from deportation.

Why it matters: DACA was implemented under former President Obama, but President Trump has sought to undo the program since taking office. Friday’s ruling will require Department of Homeland Security officers to begin accepting applications starting Monday and guarantee that work permits are valid for two years.

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