Is Oumuamua Really An Alien Spacecraft?

An illustration of ‘Oumuamua the first object we’ve ever seen pass through our own solar system that has interstellar origins

Mysterious interstellar asteroid could be a solar sail from wrecked alien probe, astronomers say Interstellar mystery rock Oumuamua might have been part of an alien reconnaissance mission, according to two Harvard Smithsonian astronomers who saw in the unusual object signs it could be a light-driven probe.

"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.

Scientists first spotted 'Oumuamua, a Hawaiian word for scout or messenger, in 2017, when they detected it blazing through the solar system at 196,000 miles per hour, Reuters reported.

And scientists still don't know if it represents an entirely new class of objects - neither comet nor asteroid - that are hurtling through the galaxy.

A new paper from researchers at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics toyed with the possibility that the elongated dark-red object, could have been an "artificial origin".

In this case, the researchers say it could be "debris from an advanced technological equipment" before suggesting the much wilder, "more exotic scenario" that Oumuamua may be an operational probe sent by aliens. Oumuamua baffled scientists a year ago due to its unique speed and trajectory: as it passed through our solar system, Oumuamua accelerated.

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If Oumuamua is a lightsail, he added, one possibility is that it was floating in interstellar space when our solar system ran into it, "like a ship bumping into a buoy on the surface of the ocean", NBC News reported.

The work, written by Professor and chair of the Department of astronomy Abram Loeb, and the owner of scientific degrees Shmuel Balam, Harvard Smithsonian center for astrophysics, notes that similar light sails already exist on earth. The velocity and trajectory of the object, which was discovered on 19 October, pointed to the fact that it originated in a planetary system around another star.

Other mysteries in space have previously been thought of as signs of extraterrestrial life: a mysterious radio signal, repeating fast radio bursts and even a strangely flickering star, known as Tabby's Star. "Carl Sagan once said, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" and this paper is distinctly lacking in evidence nevermind extraordinary evidence". Loeb is saying that the Oumuamua doesn't exhibit the type of characteristics seen in other comets and asteroids.

Some are not so sure the cigar-shaped 'Oumuamua is a solar sail, however. The object has left our solar system and is no longer visible even with telescopes.

Although it's "extremely thin", the researchers said the object could survive interstellar travel over galactic distances and withstand collisions with gas and dust grains.

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