How likely is the interstellar origin of CNEOS14? On the reliability of the CNEOS databaseOPEN ACCESS 

Hector Socas-Navarro

Astronomy & Astrophysics manuscript, 28 May 2024


“This paper investigates the likelihood that the CNEOS 2014-01-08 superbolide (CNEOS14) was caused by an interstellar object. This issue has remained controversial due to lack of information on the capabilities of the classified satellite sensors that recorded the fireball. We critically evaluate previous studies, specifically addressing the reliability of the CNEOS database and the associated measurement uncertainties. With proper statistical analysis of existing data and the addition of a relevant new event (the 2024 Iberian superbolide), we disprove some claims in previous work, such as: a) the existence of a purported correlation between CNEOS velocity errors and bolide speed; b) the presence of large velocity errors of 10-15 km/s in the CNEOS database; and c) the assertion that CNEOS14 is most likely a solar system object with a hyperbolic trajectory due to measurement errors. We present a quantitative estimate of the probability that CNEOS14 is interstellar. If its measurement errors are drawn from the same underlying distribution as the 18 calibrated events, then the probability that CNEOS14 is interstellar is 94.1%. This probability is lower than the 99.7% confidence (3-sigma) generally required to claim a scientific discovery. However, it is sufficiently high to be considered significant and, by far, the most likely explanation for the currently available empirical evidence.”