When astronomers using the Pan-STARRS1 telescope in Hawaii spotted a mysterious object dashing through our solar system on Oct. 19, they immediately knew it was something special.

Traveling at high speed and originating from interstellar space, this object was originally thought to be an ancient comet, but observations revealed it was, in fact, an asteroid from another star system.

“For decades we’ve theorized that such interstellar objects are out there, and now — for the first time — we have direct evidence they exist,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., said in a statement.

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