Cigar-shaped object could be alien spacecraft, Harvard researchers claim

Jan Cross
November 8, 2018

The idea that the object could have been part of some massive alien solar-powered technology may seem far-fetched, but the authors suggest an even more "exotic" explanation: "that Oumuamua may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilisation".

After using telescopes to determine if Oumuamua was an asteroid or comet, researchers settled on the term artificial origin because of its "excess acceleration" and "highly hyperbolic trajectory".

A new paper from the Harvard scientists Shmuel Bialy and Abraham Loeb suggests that quirks in Oumuamua's rotation and speed could be the result of solar-powered movement.

Last year, a mysterious interstellar object known as Oumuamua passed through outer space.

That's why the researchers raise the possibility that Oumuamua's an alien craft in the new issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters. The team termed the possible propulsion system a "lightsail of artificial origin". According to the study, "this would account for the various anomalies of 'Oumuamua, such as the unusual geometry inferred from its lightcurve, 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".

The cigar-shaped rock is now speeding through the galaxy and is the first known interstellar object to enter our solar system. One such project, Breakthrough Starshot, is aiming to send hundreds of tiny, lightsail-operated probes to a nearby solar system next year.

Ariana Grande Stumbles, Laughs While Performing ‘Thank U, Next’ on ‘Ellen’
Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 every weekday on BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra - if you miss us you can listen back here. One taught me love, one taught me patience, and one taught me pain'.

Arsene Wenger rubbishes links to AC Milan
Reports from Italy claimed Wenger was in advanced talks with Milan , and poised to end his short hiatus from football. When asked by Sky Sports about his return to football, Wenger said: "Certainly at the beginning of 2019".

Jury Selection to Begin in Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Trial
Mexican druglord " El Chapo " Guzman is on the run from police after making a daring escape from Mexico's most secure prison. One juror was excused after she said she couldn't be impartial, saying, "I feel very bad about drugs".

If Oumuamua is evidence of an alien civilization seeking out life beyond its home solar system, we may never know.

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.

Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the SETI (Search for extraterrestrial intelligence) Institute in Mountain View, California, said: "It's certainly ingenious to show that an object the size of Oumumua might be sent by aliens to another star system with nothing but a solar sail for power". "The approach I take to the subject is purely scientific and evidence-based".

The truth may be hard to establish, as Oumuamua has left the solar system and is no longer visible even with telescopes. "One should not blindly accept this clever hypothesis when there is also a mundane (and a priori more likely) explanation for Oumuamua".

Scientists first called the object an asteroid, then later deemed it a mildly active comet.

"They have not come out and flatly said this is an alien spacecraft".

Other reports by

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER