Cigar-Shaped Object May Have Been Alien Spacecraft, Researchers Claim

Cigar-Shaped Object May Have Been Alien Spacecraft, Researchers Claim

Kenneth Drake
November 10, 2018

A scientific paper led by two researchers at Harvard University made a splash this week by claiming that a cigar-shaped rock zooming through our solar system may have been sent by aliens.

Scientists have been trying to figure out what the 1,312ft (400m) object named Oumuamua might be after it was first spotted by a telescope in Hawaii in October 2017.

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

Oumuamua was dubbed an "interstellar object" when scientists decided it was neither an asteroid or a comet; while comets can speed up in a process known as "outgassing", the shape lacked the cloud of dust that surrounds a melting comet.

"Beyond that, it becomes hard to trace because of the motion of the stars and any hypothetical alien civilisation would face the same issue in charting a course that long in the first place (aside from arguments about whether they would want to launch a craft they knew would not reach its destination for many millions of years)", Jackson said.

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".

The paper was written by Professor Abraham Loeb, the director at Harvard's Center for Astrophysics's Institute for Theory and Computation, and Shmuel Bialy, a postdoctoral researcher.

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The scientists also noted that light-sails with similar dimensions have originated on earth. "The lightsail technology might be abundantly used for transportation of cargos between planets or between stars". Oumuamua baffled scientists past year due to its unique speed and trajectory: as it passed through our solar system, Oumuamua accelerated.

On its face, the study is trying to reconcile 'Oumuamua's pattern of acceleration, which matches that of a comet, to other observations that suggest it's not an active comet.

Astronomers originally thought the flattened, stadium-sized object was a comet or asteroid that came from our own solar system. Its unusual origin story wasn't the only thing that set Oumuamua apart from other comets and asteroids - it was also odd in shape; highly elongated, like a cosmic cigar.

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

Due to Oumuamua's abnormal speeds and trajectory, researchers concluded that the object is likely no longer operational.

"Like many researchers, I would very much like to believe that there is irrefutable proof of extraterrestrial life, but that is not the case", says Alan Fitzsimmons, astronomer at Queens University.