Published: Sat, November 10, 2018
Science | By Patricia Jimenez

This object may have been alien probe, Harvard paper argues

This object may have been alien probe, Harvard paper argues

The truth is out there regarding the origins of a mysterious cigar-shaped object seen tumbling through the solar system a year ago, according to researchers from Harvard University who argue it may have been an alien spacecraft sent to investigate Earth.

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".

"Oumuamua" has confounded researchers since it was first spotted previous year by the Pan-STARRS1 telescope atop Mount Haleakala in Maui, Hawaii.

The theory is based on the "excessive acceleration" of the object, that is, his sudden increase in speed while you travel through the Solar system.

Avi Loeb, chairman of Harvard's astronomy department and co-author of the paper, told NBC News: "It is impossible to guess the goal behind Oumuamua without more data".

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"A survey for lightsails as technosignatures [scientific evidence of past or present technology] in the solar system is warranted, irrespective of whether Oumuamua is one of them", the paper said.

There are probably "thousands of interstellar 'Oumuamua-like" objects "trapped" somewhere in the solar system, they wrote.

"Light sail of the same size were designed and built our own civilization, including the IKAROS project and Starshot".

An artist's depiction of Oumuamua, an interstellar object that astronomers believe is a comet, not an asteroid. "Technology light sails may be used to transport cargo between planets or between the stars".

"It's the first object to come from interstellar space, it's nothing we have seen before", Loeb said.

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

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

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.

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The object shot past our Sun last October, being observed as something literally from out of this world (i.e. not from our solar system).

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The scientists are not claiming with certainty that Oumamua was definitely of alien origin (they admit in their paper that scenario is "exotic"), but the shape was determined to have come from outside our solar system.

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