Science

Did an alien space probe pass near Earth previous year?

Did an alien space probe pass near Earth previous year?

Two Harvard researchers are raising the possibility that a mysterious space object seen tumbling past the sun a year ago - known as Oumuamua - is an alien spacecraft.

Scientists first discovered the mysterious interstellar object now known as "Oumuamua" in late 2017 when it was spotted by thePan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii.

The authors argue that if Oumuamua were just a random interstellar rock, we should have seen more objects like it.

"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.

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

"Considering an artificial origin, one possibility is that Oumuamua is a lightsail, floating in interstellar space as a debris from an advanced technological equipment".

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

Similar to how a sailing boat uses the wind in its sail to push it forward, a spacecraft with a light sail uses the light from a nearby star to propel it, with radiation pressure exerting a tiny amount of force.

In operation, the pair theorizes that the velocity of the object and its unusual trajectory can be a result of the fact that it is no longer working.

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, the first interstellar object known to enter our solar system, accelerated faster away from the Sun than expected, hence the notion that some kind of artificial sail that runs on sunlight - known as a light sail - may have helped push it through space. But Oumuamua didn't show typical signs of a comet, like a tail of dust and gas.

"This serendipitous discovery is bonus science enabled by NASA's efforts to find, track and characterize near-Earth objects that could potentially pose a threat to our planet". But the object has already left the solar system and is no longer visible, even with telescopes.

Such a probe may have been intentionally sent for a "reconnaissance mission into the inner region of the solar system", Loeb said in an email to Universe Today. "Bailer-Jones" paper on possible origin sites for 'Oumuamua was accepted by the Astrophysical Journal in September.

Governments do have secret plans in place for the possibility of an alien landing, but they'd fall apart instantly if it ever actually happened, an astronomer has told LBC.


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