Mysterious object spotted in solar system may have been an alien probe

An illustration of ‘Oumuamua the first object we’ve ever seen pass through our own solar system that has interstellar origins

An illustration of ‘Oumuamua the first object we’ve ever seen pass through our own solar system that has interstellar origins

The truth is out there regarding the origins of a mysterious cigar-shaped object seen tumbling through the solar system a year ago, according to researchers from Harvard University who argue it may have been an alien spacecraft sent to investigate Earth.

A "unique object" was discovered travelling at 196,000 miles per hour on October 19, 2017 by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii.

Despite the Harvard researchers' work, most scientists, NBC News says, are urging caution in assuming there's any other civilization beyond Earth's atmosphere - and that it's actively seeking us out.

It was moving at 59,030mph when it was first tracked by scientists.

Oumuamua "might be a lightsail of artificial origin", the paper says, referring to an object created to use solar radiation for propulsion.

"Recent observational and theoretical studies imply that 'Oumuamua is not an active comet", the researchers said in a draft version of their study.

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 objective.

If the object is a lightsail, the paper adds it might have been floating in interstellar space when our solar system ran into it "like a ship bumping into a buoy on the surface of the ocean".

Loeb and his collaborator, Shmuel Bialy, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, acknowledge that the alien spacecraft scenario is an "exotic" idea.

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But not everyone agrees that the "cigar-shaped" space object shows signs of extraterrestrial intelligence.

"But one should not blindly accept this clever hypothesis when there is also a mundane explanation for Oumuamua - namely that it's a comet or asteroid from afar".

But until science tells us that it definitely isn't, we'd like to believe that it is.

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

"Why send a spacecraft which is doing this?" he said.

"I follow the maxim of Sherlock Holmes: When you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth", Loeb said.

Oumuamua has now left the solar system and is no longer visible even with telescopes.

The mysterious space object has fascinated scientists ever since it was observed traveling past the sun a year ago.

"If radiation pressure is the accelerating force, then 'Oumuamua represents a new class of thin interstellar material, either produced naturally, through a yet unknown process in the [interstellar medium] or in proto-planetary disks, or of an artificial origin".

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