Science

Harvard astronomers: Mysterious object possibly alien spacecraft

Harvard astronomers: Mysterious object possibly alien spacecraft”

Oumuamua was dubbed an "interstellar object" when scientists decided it was neither an asteroid or a comet; while comets can speed up in a process known as "outgassing", the shape lacked the cloud of dust that surrounds a melting comet.

The Oumuamua was first discovered by a telescope in Hawaii.

In a new scientific paper, Shmuel Bialy and Abraham Loeb of Harvard University in the USA will say cigar-shaped "Oumuamua" could be a spaceship. 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".

"Oumuamua may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilization", the paper's authors wrote.

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

"This would account for the various anomalies of 'Oumuamua, such as the unusual geometry inferred from its light-curve, its low thermal emission, suggesting high reflectivity, and its deviation from a Keplerian orbit without any sign of a cometary tail or spin-up torques".

In a paper to be published November 12 in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, the pair declare that the reddish, elongated, stadium-sized object "may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilization", NBC News reported.

Scientists have been puzzling over "Oumuamua" ever since the mysterious object was seen tumbling past the sun in late 2017.

"It is going extremely fast and on such a trajectory that we can say with confidence that this object is on its way out of the solar system and not coming back", Mr Farnocchia said shortly after its discovery.

Claiming the vessel may be made by aliens, Dr Bialy told The Times: 'Even if there's a small chance it's so interesting that we can't ignore it'.

Another scientist, also studying Oumuamua - and who identified four dwarf stars that could be Oumuamua's point of origin - says the object moved too haphazardly to collect any valuable information, even if it was a probe.

But Loeb called the conjecture "purely scientific and evidence-based", adding, "I follow the maxim of Sherlock Holmes: When you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth".

Oumuamua has left the solar system and is no longer visible, the news outlet noted.

At first, astronomers thought the rapidly moving faint light was a regular comet or an asteroid that had originated in our solar system.

"Two very capable, very bright astronomers, from a very credible organization, Harvard, have come out with the notion that Oumuamua could be alien in origin", Diamond said.



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