Cigar-shaped interstellar object may have been an alien probe, Harvard paper claims

Cigar-shaped interstellar object may have been an alien probe, Harvard paper claims

A "unique object" was discovered travelling at 196,000 miles per hour on October 19, 2017 by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii.

Oumuamua has already passed Earth on its way out of the solar system, so the object is too far away for scientists to continue studying it, meaning its origin, behaviour, and makeup will remain a mystery.

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

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".

But the object's unusual trajectory, high speed, and puzzling way it is speeding up as it moves through the solar system, have caused researchers to consider other possibilities.

In a letter published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters on 12 November, the researchers add that Oumuamua could be a spacecraft pushed along by light falling on its surface.

Oumuamua "might be a lightsail of artificial origin", the paper says, referring to an object created to use solar radiation for propulsion.

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

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But since Oumuamua's discovery, scientists have continued to wonder whether it could have originated from some intelligent life-form.

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".

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

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

He said: "If it were a spacecraft, this tumbling would make it impossible to keep any instruments pointed at the Earth".

When the object was first spotted scientists believed it might have been travelling through space for hundreds of millions of years.

"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.

"If radiation pressure is the accelerating force, then 'Oumuamua represents a new class of thin interstellar material, either produced naturally, through a yet unknown process in the [interstellar medium] or in proto-planetary disks, or of an artificial origin".

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