Harvard Researchers: Space Object Was Alien Spacecraft

This diagram shows the orbit of the interstellar object ‘Oumuamua as it passes through the Solar System. It shows the predicted path of ‘Oumuamua and the new course taking the new measured velocity of the object into account. ‘Oumuamua passed the

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".

When the object - known as Oumuamua - flew past the sun, astronomers rushed to find out more about it and reviewed data discovering that the object gained speed instead of slowing down.

A "unique object" was discovered travelling at 196,000 miles per hour on October 19, 2017 by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii. But its "flattened, elongated shape and the way it accelerated on its way through the solar system set it apart from conventional asteroids and comets", reports NBC News. The team termed the possible propulsion system a "lightsail of artificial origin".

Harvard researchers have now said it "may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth's vicinity by an alien civilisation".

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.

"This would account for the various anomalies of 'Oumuamua, such as the unusual geometry inferred from its light-curve, its low thermal emission, suggesting high reflectivity, and its deviation from a Keplerian orbit without any sign of a cometary tail or spin-up torques".

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".

Alongside Shmuel Bialy, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, acknowledges that the alien spacecraft theory is an "exotic" one. "But one should not blindly accept this clever hypothesis when there is also a mundane (and a priori more likely) explanation for Oumuamua - namely that it's a comet or asteroid from afar".

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"It is going extremely fast and on such a trajectory that we can say with confidence that this object is on its way out of the solar system and not coming back", Mr Farnocchia said shortly after its discovery.

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

He raised questions in particular about the object's tumbling motion.

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

But Loeb called the conjecture "purely scientific and evidence-based", adding, "I follow the maxim of Sherlock Holmes: When you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth".

The estimated 400 metre-long object sped through our inner solar system at a speed of more than 26 kilometres per second before departing in January 2018.

We may never know if they are correct.



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