Oumuamua May Have Been an Alien Spaceship, Astronomers Say

Katie Ramirez
November 8, 2018

The reason for this is because Oumuamua appeared to actually pick up speed as it passed the sun, suggesting the object could have an artificially built light sail that it fuels itself with.

That's why the researchers raise the possibility that Oumuamua's an alien craft in the new issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The object was discovered past year with the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope atop Haleakalā on Maui and was given the Hawaiian name ʻOumuamua, meaning 'a messenger from afar arriving first'. They say it "may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilization". The team termed the possible propulsion system a "lightsail of artificial origin".

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". Given the name "Oumuamua" - which means messenger from afar arriving first, or scout, in Hawaiian - the object is believed to be the first interstellar visitor to our solar system.

"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". One such project, Breakthrough Starshot, is aiming to send hundreds of tiny, lightsail-operated probes to a nearby solar system next year.

It "may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilization", states a paper by two Harvard scientists to be published November 12 in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Despite the Harvard researchers' work, most scientists, NBC News says, are urging caution in assuming there's any other civilization beyond Earth's atmosphere - and that it's actively seeking us out.

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"Currently there is an unexplained phenomena, namely, the excess acceleration of Oumuamua, which we show may be explained by the force of radiation pressure from the sun", co-author and Harvard astrophysicist Shmuel Bialy told AFP via email Tuesday.

Yesterday, a number of astronomers criticized Loeb's conclusions, particularly the lack of direct evidence pointing to alien influence.

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

He raised questions in particular about the object's tumbling motion.

Although it's been called a comet or an asteroid in the past, it's still unclear exactly what the elongated, red-tinged object is and where it came from.

Oumuamua has now left the solar system and is no longer visible even with telescopes.

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