Word of the Day


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between the stars

Origin and usage

The word interstellar comes from a combination of the word ‘inter’ meaning ‘between’ and the Latin word ‘stella’ meaning ‘star’. Interstellar dates from the 1620s and was first used to describe modern astronomy in the 1670s.


Interstellar is an adjective that refers to the space between the stars. Astronomers (scientists who study stars, planets and all things related to outer space) have long tracked objects that display interstellar movement.

Lately, astronomers have been keeping an eye on an interstellar visitor to our solar system. The foreign body has been named ‘Oumuamua, which is a Hawaiian word meaning a messenger or scout sent from the past. The object is the first interstellar asteroid ever to be observed and positively identified, with scientists believing it was knocked off course in a violent collision with another interstellar object at some point in the distant past.

According to astronomers, the interstellar asteroid will continue to rotate and tumble through our solar system for billions or even hundreds of billions of years to come.

Though ‘Oumuamua is the first-ever interstellar asteroid scientists have observed, emerging technology that has improved the strength and power of space telescopes is sure to deliver even more discoveries of distant interstellar objects as they move through our solar system.


“Lots of science fiction deals with distant times and places. Intrepid prospectors in the Asteroid Belt. Interstellar epics. Galactic empires. Trips to the remote past or future.”
(Edward M. Lerner)

“Space doesn’t offer an escape from Earth’s problems. And even with nuclear fuel, the transit time to nearby stars exceeds a human lifetime. Interstellar travel is therefore, in my view, an enterprise for post-humans, evolved from our species not via natural selection, but by design.”
(Martin Rees)

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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