Monday, 10 December, 2018

Interstellar object Oumuamua may be alien probe: Harvard scientists

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Sandy Nunez | 09 November, 2018, 21:43

A mysterious cigar-shaped object spotted tumbling through our solar system past year may have been an alien spacecraft sent to investigate Earth, astronomers from Harvard University have suggested.

Oumuamua, Hawaiian for "messenger" or "scout", was first viewed by telescopes in October 2017. Further observations gave evidence the object was interstellar in nature, and it left the solar system even faster than it came in after slinging around the sun and reaching 196,000 miles per hour, according to NASA.

"It is impossible to guess the objective behind Oumuamua without more data", Avi Loeb, chairman of Harvard's astronomy department and a co-author of the paper, told NBC News MACH in an email. But the current telescope technology available found nothing of note on the asteroid.Still, there were some odd things about 'Oumuamua: Normally, scientists would assume that an interstellar object would be a comet.

Axios reported that the study suggests that solar radiation pressure could be behind the object's "peculiar" acceleration around the sun.

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"A more exotic scenario is that "Oumuamua" may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilization", the researchers wrote.

The cigar-shaped space rock which was designated as a comet by astronomers is apparently the first known object from another solar system to pass through our own.

We may never know if they are correct. Bialy and Loeb concluded maybe it came from an "artificial origin", implying that it was made by something other than natural formation. "It has already been shown that the observed characteristics of the object are consistent with those of a comet-like body ejected from another star system", he says. "I will be truly excited once we have conclusive evidence", he said.

This development also led notable American astrophysicist Katherine Mack to remark that "scientists are perfectly happy to publish an outlandish idea if it has even the tiniest *sliver* of a chance of not being wrong". "Even the authors probably do not believe it themselves". Asked if he believed the hypothesis he put forward, Bialy told AFP: "I wouldn't say I "believe" it is sent by aliens, as I am a scientist, and not a believer, I rely on evidence to put forward possible physical explanation for observed phenomena". "It is impossible to guess the objective of Oumuamua without more data".