'Oumuamua: Comet or Alien Probe?

'Oumuamua: Comet or Alien Probe?

'Oumuamua: Comet or Alien Probe?

New research from Harvard astronomers claims the only explanation for a mysterious object that flew close to the sun past year is an alien spacecraft, but their bold claim has drawn criticism from a number of other astronomers.

Shmuel Bialy and Abraham Loeb, two astronomers from the Harvard Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, suggested the cigar-shaped object - given the Hawaiian name 'Oumuamua, which NASA notes "means a messenger from afar arriving first" - could have been a discarded light sail of extra-terrestrial origin, perhaps sent here on goal.

Scientists have been confounded by the interstellar object first spotted tumbling past the sun a year ago via telescopes on Maui.

It was traveling at speeds of 196,000 miles per hour.

"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.

If Oumuamua is evidence of an alien civilization seeking out life beyond its home solar system, we may never know.

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.

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

Scientists decided it was probably an asteroid, but then it started mysteriously accelerating again, which is more like what a comet would do, NASA wrote.

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For the first time, a mysterious space object "Omului" was seen at the end of 2017. "The lightsail technology might be abundantly used for transportation of cargos between planets or between stars".

It is known that comets are accelerated through a process known as "degassing" when the sun heats the icy surface, releasing the molten gas.

A new study as found a huge cigar-shaped object travelling through space could be an alien spaceship.

Their paper was accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal Letters and will appear on November 12.

The paper said if solar radiation pressure is the reason "Oumuamua" is moving at high speeds, it represents "a new class of thin interstellar material" either made naturally or through artificial means.

Oumuamua has left the solar system and is no longer visible, the news outlet noted.

So far, there is no obvious origin for 'Oumuamua.

"This is the only other explanation we could come up with", said Avi Loeb, chair of Harvard's department of astronomy.

Astronomers were baffled, eventually settling on the term "interstellar object", the Washington Post reported.

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