Interstellar asteroid could be 'alien' mission searching for life

Audrey Hill
November 10, 2018

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.

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

In late October, 2017, NASA said the recently discovered interstellar visitor appeared "to have originated from outside the solar system, coming from somewhere else in our galaxy".

That high speed is what the Harvard astronomers are basing their theory on. They say it "may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilization".

Not only is it the first-ever interstellar asteroid or comet detected by astronomers while passing through the solar system, its shape is unusual, its acceleration is unexpected, and a cometary tail - the signature trail of particles seen behind shooting stars - is conspicuous in its absence. Nicknamed "Oumuamua", the object has an exceptionally odd shape that distinguishes it from most asteroids and comets: It's a stadium-sized mass with a flat, elongated body that is reddish in color.

"Light sail of the same size were designed and built our own civilization, including the IKAROS project and Starshot. Moreover, comets change the period of their spin and no such change was detected for Oumuamua", Loeb said. "Technology the light sails can be used to transport cargo between planets or between the stars", the researchers note.

For the first time, a mysterious space object "Omului" was seen at the end of 2017.

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Comets, in particular, are known to speed up due to "outgassing", a process in which the sun heats the surface of the icy comet, releasing melted gas.

Oumuamua has left the solar system and is no longer visible, the news outlet noted. But 'Oumuamua didn't have a "coma", the atmosphere and dust that surrounds comets as they melt.

But not everyone agrees that the "cigar-shaped" space object shows signs of extraterrestrial intelligence.

Such a means of "power" would allow, say, an alien probe to travel far into the universe with nothing but light needed to fuel it.

Of course, the pair aren't claiming that Oumuamua's definitely of alien origin.

Astronomers were baffled, eventually settling on the term "interstellar object", the Washington Post reported.

Bailer-Jones, who earlier this year led a group of scientists who identified four dwarf stars as likely origin points for Oumuamua, raised questions in particular about the object's tumbling motion.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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