Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

Scientists Believe Mysterious, Oddly Shaped Space Object Could Be 'Alien Probe'

ESO  M. Kornmesser ESO M. Kornmesser
Sandra Phillips | 08 November, 2018, 00:03

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

According to the new study compiled by Shmuel Bialy and Abraham Loeb, "The large variations in its apparent magnitude and the non-trivial periodicity of the lightcurve, suggest that 'Oumuamua is rotating in an excited spin state (tumbling motion), and has an extreme aspect ratio of at least 5: 1, an unprecedented value for previously known asteroids and comets in the Solar System".

The Harvard paper will be published November 12 in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, NBC News reports.

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

Now, a new paper by researchers at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics raises the possibility that the elongated dark-red object, which is 10 times as long as it is wide and traveling at speeds of 196,000 miles per hour, might have an "artificial origin".

The researchers are not saying outright that Oumuamua is a sign of extraterrestrial life. One such project, Breakthrough Starshot, is aiming to send hundreds of tiny, lightsail-operated probes to a nearby solar system next year.

"I've been saying for years that the only thing that could happen that would make this more insane and I don't think anybody would blink, is if all of a sudden an alien spacecraft appeared above Earth", he added.

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The Harvard scientists speculated that solar radiation hitting a solar sail could explain why the mysterious object started moving faster.

In their paper, the Harvard scientists say the only way to know for sure is to keep watch and see what else shows up in our solar system.

But until science tells us that it definitely isn't, we'd like to believe that it is.

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

Instead, it had dived between Mercury and the sun and was zooming past Earth on its way out of our solar system, a path that meant Oumuamua was an interstellar traveller from beyond the solar system.

The research paper said: "Considering an artificial origin, one possibility is that Oumuamua is a lightsail, floating in interstellar space as a debris from an advanced technological equipment".

"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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