Scientists reveal mysterious 'Oumuamua' object could be an alien spacecraft

An artist's depiction of Oumuamua the first detected interstellar object

An artist's depiction of Oumuamua the first detected interstellar object

When the object was first spotted scientists believed it might have been travelling through space for hundreds of millions of years. Oumuamua baffled scientists a year ago due to its unique speed and trajectory: as it passed through our solar system, Oumuamua accelerated.

The object's "excess acceleration" when it travelled through our solar system and its peculiar trajectory distinguishes it from comets and asteroids, the researchers explained.

According to a new study conducted by the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the cigar-shaped asteroid Oumuamua could be an alien spacecraft.

"It's certainly ingenious to show that an object the size of Oumuamua might be sent by aliens", says SETI Institute astronomer Seth Shostak. But after a thorough mathematical analysis of how interstellar object accelerated as it flew past the Sun, they say Omwamwi can be a space ship.

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.

So what does that mean for 'Oumuamua?

The object was said to be 10 times longer than it is wide and it traveled at speeds of almost 200,000 miles per hour.

Astronomers originally thought the flattened, stadium-sized object was a comet or asteroid that came from our own solar system. In fact, some scientists seem to think that the simplest explanation for the object is probably the most plausible. "Carl Sagan once said, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" and this paper is distinctly lacking in evidence nevermind extraordinary evidence". The study suggests that if 'Oumuamua rotates in its highest rotational energy state, "it should be extremely oblate (pancake-like)".

"Any functional spacecraft would nearly certainly retract its solar sail once in interstellar space to prevent damage", Jackson said.

To explain its movement, the report's authors, Abraham Loeb, a professor and chair of astronomy, and Shmuel Bialy, a postdoctoral fellow, argue that Oumuamua's non-gravitational acceleration may be explained by solar radiation pressure. But the way the object sped through space leads the team to believe the otherworldly craft was propelled by some sort of "lightsail of artificial origin".

The strangly shaped object is about half a mile long and is so unusual that Nasa said it had "never seen a natural object with such extreme proportions in the solar system before".

It's cryptic, dark, and going really, really fast - and a pair of Harvard scientists say the mysterious space object 'Oumuamua may actually have come from an alien civilization.

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