Scientists reveal mysterious 'Oumuamua' object could be an alien spacecraft

Mindy Sparks
November 7, 2018

A Hawaiian telescope first spotted "Oumuamua", meaning "a messenger from afar, arriving first" in Hawaiian, in October 2017.

According to Harvard scientists, we may not be alone in our solar system.

Two Harvard researchers are raising the possibility that a mysterious space object seen tumbling past the sun a year ago - known as Oumuamua - is an alien spacecraft.

"Alternatively, a more exotic scenario is that Oumuamua may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilization". But unlike asteroids and other natural, space-faring objects, the Oumuamua appeared to "pick up speed" in a way that wasn't consistent with how scientists understand similar objects to move in space.

In a letter published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters on 12 November, the researchers add that Oumuamua could be a spacecraft pushed along by light falling on its surface. But the way the object sped through space leads the team to believe the otherworldly craft was propelled by some sort of "lightsail of artificial origin".

Lightsails are a proposed method of spacecraft propulsion which uses radiation pressure exerted from sunlight or large mirrors.

But since Oumuamua's discovery, scientists have continued to wonder whether it could have originated from some intelligent life-form. One such project, Breakthrough Starshot, is aiming to send hundreds of tiny, lightsail-operated probes to a nearby solar system next year.

The paper, written by Abraham Loeb, professor and chair of astronomy, and Shmuel Bialy, a postdoctoral scholar, at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, points out that comparable light-sails already exist on earth.

But not everyone agrees that the "cigar-shaped" space object shows signs of extraterrestrial intelligence.

But Alan Jackson, a fellow at the Centre for Planetary Sciences at the University of Toronto Scarborough, told CNN the study was "distinctly lacking in evidence, never mind extraordinary evidence" and that the spectral data suggested the object was an asteroid or comet.

"Not 'where is the lack of evidence so that I can fit in any hypothesis that I like?"

He raised questions in particular about the object's tumbling motion.

"Any functional spacecraft would nearly certainly retract its solar sail once in interstellar space to prevent damage", Mr Jackson said.

It's also possible Oumuamua was just created to wander through space, collecting information, and our solar system just happened to be in its way - its operators weren't necessarily looking to pry into the lives of humans.

"I follow the maxim of Sherlock Holmes: When you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth", Loeb said.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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